The South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) has thrown its weight behind fast bowler Lungi Ngidi after at least three former internationals criticised him for his stance on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. On Monday, Ngidi said he hopes South African players will join the “rest of the world and make a stand,” of anti-racism, especially given the country’s history. On Facebook, Rudi Steyn, Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar took issue with Ngidi’s statement, and SACA has labelled their comments “unfair.”
Ngidi’s domestic franchise, the Titans, issued a statement in support of both the BLM movement and the campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) while Cricket South Africa confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that it will use the 3TC match on July 18 to show support for both causes. Ngidi is one of 24 players who will participate in the fixture, which marks South African players’ return to the field after more than three months of inaction because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Black Lives Matter. It is as simple as that,” said CSA’s acting CEO, Jacques Faul. “As a national sporting body representing more than 56 million South Africans and with the privileged position of owning a platform as large as we do, it is of vital importance that we use our voice to educate and listen to others on topics involving all forms of discrimination.
“During our celebrations of Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July, CSA will further spread the message of anti-racism through the BLM campaign while we also speak out against all forms of violence and in particular, the scourge that is Gender Based Violence and various other causes that are of importance to our society and the organization.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, the BLM movement has swept through the sporting world, from the English Premier League and Formula 1 to the Test cricket in England, and SACA has joined the chorus calling for high-profile players to use their status to exert a positive influence. “At SACA, we support the concept of the athlete activist,” CEO Andrew Breetzke told ESPNcricinfo. “Ultimately, individual activism translates to collective activism and it can lead to institutional change. We support Lungi in exercising his right to express his support for the BLM movement and we believe the unfair criticism directed at him undermines that right.”
The criticism SACA referred to began on Tuesday when, in response to Ngidi’s comments, former national batsman Rudi Steyn put up a Facebook post: “I believe the Proteas should make a stand against racism, but if they stand up for “black lives matter” while ignoring the way white farmers are daily being “slaughtered” like animals, they have lost my vote.”
Symcox was one of more than 100 people to comment: “What nonsense is this. He must take his own stand if he wishes. Stop trying to get the Proteas involved in his belief….Now when Ngidi has his next meal perhaps he would rather consider supporting the farmers of South Africa who are under pressure right now.”
Dippenaar added: “All lives matter. If you want me to stand shoulder to shoulder with you Lungi then stand shoulder to shoulder with me with regards to farm attacks.” (Cricinfo)