How Lungi Ngidi's stance on Black Lives Matter prompted mixed reactions: five must-read stories

17 July 2020 - 08:57 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Lungi Ngidi's (centre) Black Lives Matter stance lifted the lid on racism in cricket this week.
Lungi Ngidi's (centre) Black Lives Matter stance lifted the lid on racism in cricket this week.
Image: ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP

Issues of racism in cricket continue to make headlines after Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi was criticised by some former players for his support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ngidi, who was named the country's men's one-day international and T20 cricketer of the year recently, made headlines after pointing out SA's history of racial discrimination and calling for his teammates to take a stand against racism the next time they meet.

Here are five must-read articles from this week.

What was said

The 24-year-old was criticised by former Proteas players Pat Symcox, Boeta Dippenaar and Rudi Steyn after he called on his teammates to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It's definitely something that we will discuss once we are together in person,” said Ngidi.

“As a nation as well, we have a past that is also difficult in terms of racial discrimination and things like that. So, definitely, we will be addressing it as a team. It’s something we have to take seriously and like the rest of the world is doing, take a stand.”

Criticism 

The former Proteas players expressed their criticism and said Ngidi must stop trying to get the Proteas involved in his belief.

“What nonsense is this. He must take his own stand if he wishes, said Symcox. Stop trying to get the Proteas involved in his belief.” 

Dippenaar described the Black Lives Matter movement “as nothing more than a leftist political movement”.

“I am afraid to say 'Black Lives Matter' has become nothing more than a leftist political movement,” he said.

Steyn suggested that the Ngidi should be discussing the recent farm murders.

“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,” Steyn said.

Symcox later backtracked on his comment and took to Twitter to “clear up the issue”.

“I too support Ngidi's stance of eradicating all forms of racism in sport,” he said, adding that “my own grass roots work, done weekly, attempts to ensure all get a fair chance. I also believe that all lives matter and right now farmers are critical to us.”

Support for Ngidi

The South African Cricketers' Association (Saca) said it stood by Ngidi.

“Freedom of expression is an enabling right that all South Africans support,” said Saca CEO Andrew Breetzke.

“As Saca CEO I lead a diverse group of players and I stand with Lungi in my commitment to transformation, diversity, and to continue to work towards building a more inclusive game and society.”

Not worth losing sleep

Ngidi's comments prompted several former players to share their own experiences of racial discrimination within the sport.

Former Proteas bowling coach and Cricket SA high-performance manager Vincent Barnes said he was impressed by Ngidi's response and pointed out that criticism was not worth losing sleep over.

“He said that once they got together as a squad it would be something that they would address, or that he would address with the rest of the squad. Not once did he say that other people or other lives don’t matter,” said Barnes.

Racism in cricket

In an exclusive interview with TimesLIVE, former fast bowler Ethy Mbhalati revealed how allegations of institutionalised racism at the Northerns Cricket Union (NCU) shattered the careers of many highly promising black cricketers.

“Club cricket is worse because we have been called monkeys and many other things while playing there,” said Mbhalati.

“I have seen younger white players fresh from high school who never played club cricket get contracts of R400‚000 per year while black players with franchise experience were on R200‚000 a year.”


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