Saturday, October 24, 2020
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‘Why taking a knee is so important’

Shakera Selman column

Venue:Incora County Ground, DerbyDates:21, 23, 26, 28, 30 September
Coverage:Third game (26 September) live on BBC TV; Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on all games with highlights on BBC TV, live text commentary and in-play clips on BBC Sport website & app

When I, my West Indies team-mates, my opponents and the match officials take a knee to recognise the Black Lives Matter movement before our Twenty20 internationals against England I will feel both proud and privileged.

I am proud to play my part in raising awareness, and privileged that as an athlete I am able to keep the conversation going.

But this is only the start.

While I am fortunate to have escaped racism directed at myself, I have seen and heard other people – both in my sport and outside of cricket – speak about how they have been racially abused.

As a black person myself, and a black athlete who has interacted with people of all races, I completely understand the need to keep the conversation going.

Sport is the one thing which unifies everyone. Taking a knee and showing solidarity started with American Football – it is good to see it has carried on to every sport, including my own.

Athletes know the influence they have on people so if we can support the BLM movement and keep people aware of the injustices people around the world face, then it will serve for good.

I do, however, think this is just the start and it is something we must continue to do. I don’t expect it to change overnight and this is a starting point for years to come.

We all have a role to play in setting the standard for the future and I would be excited to tell my grandchildren – and, in fact, any young person I come into contact with – that I stood up for something which is so incredibly important to me.

West Indies take a knee
The West Indies men’s team took a knee – as did England – before their matches earlier this summer

Unfortunately, though, prejudice can take many forms; including against female athletes.

When I made my West Indies debut 12 years ago, not as many people were supportive of females playing cricket as they are now.

Things are gradually improving, thankfully, and people recognise that females are capable of playing sport and, more specifically, cricket.

The case in point would be the last women’s T20 World Cup, which was held in Australia in March.

It was phenomenal to see more than 86,000 people at a women’s sporting event. I’m excited it was cricket but 86,000 people at any women’s sporting event is remarkable.

I think that speaks a lot about what the boards are doing to support women cricketers.

I know Cricket West Indies are doing a lot for us. We’re involved in more national team camps and there’s more development for the Under-19s and so on.

That brings me to the series against England. We can’t wait to get out there and play cricket and want to emulate our men’s team in producing performances which make our nation’s cricket fans proud.

Except we want a different result this time – we’re here to win, and to beat England in their own backyard.

Shakera Selman was speaking to BBC Sport’s Marc Higginson

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