Australian Test cricketers have taken a knee for the first time ever just ahead of the first ball in the series opener against the West Indies in Perth, but many fans have slammed the gesture as ‘woke’ and ‘virtue-signalling’.
Fans flooded Cricket Australia’s post about the opening game of the Test summer at Optus Stadium with comments about wanting the national team to focus on cricket, not politics
It comes as public interest and sentiment towards the men’s sides has plummeted, with the stadium looking almost completely empty as the game began.
Typically, the side has taken a knee when an opponent has done it, in a show of support and respect to their opponents; and given the West Indies again decided to take a knee in defiance of racism, the Aussie men have done the same.
Aussie players David Warner takes a knee prior to the first ball of the Test at Optus Stadium in Perth against the West Indies
‘We’ve consulted with the West Indies team, who confirmed they will be taking a knee,’ a Cricket Australia spokesperson told The Age earlier this week.
‘As we’ve done in the West Indies and during the recent warm-up games we will support the West Indies team and take a knee alongside them.’
After singing the national anthems, both teams took a knee; with many West Indian players also raising their fists in a ‘black power’ salute – something which also features on their collars along with the term ‘Black Lives Matter’.
But many fans considered it a token gesture that has been overused and lost its power in the fight against racism, which is clearly still so prevalent across the world in spite of the gesture.
Kemar Roach takes a knee and raises his fist in a ‘black power’ salute prior to the first ball of the game
West Indian wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva and allrounder Kyle Mayers can also been seen kneeling while doing a ‘black power’ salute prior to the first ball
West Indian players are also wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the collars of their uniforms accompanied by an emoji of a ‘black power’ salute
‘Get back to me when the players are focusing on cricket and not boring, self-righteous, political platitudes,’ one wrote on Cricket Australia’s Twitter post.
‘Are the plonkers taking a virtue-signalling knee?’ another asked, while many said the ‘political wokeness’ was turning them off the men’s game.
That being said, many agreed that it was not the only reason why sentiment towards the team has plummeted, saying it had been ‘poorly run for some time’.
Top limited overs spinner Adam Zampa, who doesn’t currently feature in Tests, backed his skipper’s stance.
The practicing Vegan and climate crusader, who lives on a sustainable farm in Byron Bay, slammed cricket fans
‘The same people that say (to be quiet) are always the ones telling us to try and not be vanilla as well,’ Zampa said on SEN Radio.
‘We have certain beliefs and if we’re asked about it, we will tell the truth. I think Pat nailed it on the head yesterday. He’s obviously copped quite a lot in the media.
‘He’s not the guy who will back down and then change his values because of what a few people will comment on their Facebook pages about it,’ said Zampa.
Adam Zampa spoke up in support of Aussie skipper Pat Cummins (pictured prior to the toss), who some fans are calling ‘too woke’
Earlier in the week, Daily Mail Australia revealed shocking graphics that show Aussie cricket fans are ‘voting with their feet’ when it comes to attending games.
Tens of thousands of seats went, and still are, unsold – and that’s despite ticket prices as low as they’ve been in recent memory.
Veteran West Australian cricket journalist John Townsend said he believed ticket sales hadn’t even reached the thousands yet.
A shot from Optus Stadium shows a huge amount of empty seats for the start of Australia’s summer of cricket – something that would typically draw a huge crowd
‘I think there’s a lot of elements in Australian cricket and West Australian cricket at the moment that are working against the best interest of the game,’ he told Sportsday WA.
‘I think we’re going to see it, people will vote with their feet. Whether it’ll be embarrassing or not, that’s for the people to decide but I think it’s going to be very low.’
‘It could be a record-low West Australian Test.’
Earlier, the two sides also participated in a Barefoot Circle, as a show of respect to Indigenous peoples, with Optus Stadium on Noongar country.
Indigenous Aussie cricketer Scott Boland (centre) participates in the Barefoot Circle prior to the start of the Test series
Players do the circle barefoot as a way to connect to country. Optus Stadium in Perth is on Noongar land
The Barefoot Circle is now down prior to the start of every series Down Under
According to Cricket Australia, the barefoot circle is a cricket centric way for players and teams to take a moment prior to matches to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, connect to each other as opponents and pay respect to the country.
This is done barefoot as a way to connect to country, but also a moment to reflect that we are all common ground.