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SportCricketAustralia cricketers to make barefoot anti-racism gesture

Australia cricketers to make barefoot anti-racism gesture

Published: 16th Nov 2020 5:37 pm

Sydney: The Australian men’s cricket team will form a “barefoot circle” before the upcoming series against India to demonstrate opposition to racism and celebrate Aboriginal culture, vice-captain Pat Cummins said Monday.

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Cummins said the decision came after discussions within the team, which was criticised by West Indies great Michael Holding for not taking a knee during a tour of England in September.
The practice of gathering barefoot on the pitch before a series was introduced by the Australian women’s team this year at the urging of all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner, who has Aboriginal heritage.

Cummins said the men’s team would introduce it for the India tour, which gets under way on November 27, and make it a regular pre-match ritual at the start of a series. “We think it’s really important to do our bit and we’ve decided to do the barefoot circle,” he told reporters in a conference call. Not only as a sport, but we as people are absolutely against racism. I think we could probably put our hands up and say we haven’t done enough in the past and we want to get better, so this is one small thing we’re going to introduce this summer.”

The act of placing a knee on the ground was made famous by former American NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first did so in 2016 to protest police brutality against Black people and other minorities. Cummins said Australia’s cricketers instead chose the barefoot circle because of its nod to Aboriginal culture.

“In Australia, we think the most marginalised group is the First Nations people, the indigenous people,” he said. “We think the barefoot circle is a great way to celebrate them. Some people might want to take the knee and show it (support) in different ways, we’re absolutely all for that.”

Australia coach Justin Langer was stung by Holding’s criticism and said at the time that his team wanted to send a “sustained and powerful” message against racism. Meanwhile, Cummins said he is yet to take a call on whether to play in the limited-overs series against India although he is feeling fresh after spending three months inside bio-secure bubbles.

Cummins, who returned last week from the UAE where he turned up for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, has been hopping between bio-secure bubbles since touching down in England in late August but he allayed fears of fatigue.

“(I) haven’t made a final decision on that yet. (It’s) unprecedented times with so many people spending a large portion of time in these bubbles so we’re going to keep all the conversations open, chat about that a bit closer to when we all get together,” Cummins said when asked about resting ahead of the Test summer.

“There’s always cricket on, so we’ll make sure we’re all open about that, having those conversations,” said the 27-year-old during a video conference as reported by ‘cricket.com.au’.
Cummins has been named in both the white and red-ball squads as vice-captain. The limited-overs series is to be held in Sydney and Canberra ahead of the four-match Test series, beginning in Adelaide on December 17.

Australia’s Test players in the white-ball squad, including Steve Smith and David Warner, will get only a week to prepare for the opening Test, a day-nighter in Adelaide.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s times throughout the summer where some players might just need a little rest knowing not only how busy this next couple of months is but also a tour of South Africa (February-March) and a few away tours next year,” said Cummins, who has taken 143 wickets from 30 Tests.

He is now in Sydney spending 14 days quarantining and will join the squad on November 27, the day of the opening one-dayer at the SCG.

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