MANCHESTER: England fast bowler Jofra Archer has said they have not forgotten about the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement after former West Indies bowler Michael Holding criticised the country’s board (ECB) when players stopped taking a knee before matches.

England and West Indies players took a knee before each game in their three-Test series in July but the symbolic gesture was discontinued for the Pakistan series as well as the two limited overs series against Australia.

The ECB had released a statement justifying their decision to stop taking a knee which was described as ‘lame’ by Holding, who also took issue with Australian captain Aaron Finch’s statements when the visitors said they would not take a knee.

“We have not forgotten, no one here has forgotten about ‘Black Lives Matter’,” Archer said. “I think it is a bit harsh for Michael Holding to not do some research before criticising. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what is going on behind the scenes.

“I don’t think he has spoken to [ECB chief executive] Tom Harrison. I have spoken to Tom and we have stuff running in the background.”

England also wore ‘Black Lives Matter’ logos on their shirts during their Test series against West Indies, but opted not to continue the practice against Pakistan and Australia.

Although England’s cricket team stopped taking a knee, the country’s football team took a knee before their UEFA Nations League matches while Premier League clubs have also continued to do the same after the new season kicked off over the weekend.

Archer has been subjected to racist abuse on social media and the 25-year-old said tough action was needed to clamp down on such remarks.

The England paceman took 3-34 as the world champions fought back to beat Australia by 24 runs in Sunday’s second One-day International.

England have won all of their previous series across all formats during a home season overshadowed by the coronavirus, with players holed up in bio-secure bubbles and matches played behind closed doors.

“I remember when we first came into the bubble, we said we wanted a clean sweep of the summer,” said Archer. “We just need to go two days from now and do it.”

But the bowler, ruled out of the second Test against the West Indies in Manchester in July after breaching Covid-19 regulations, admitted life had been tough.

“I’ll tell you, it has been mentally challenging,” said multi-format star Archer, who has spent 87 days in the bubble — more than any other England player.

And he said that meant it was unlikely he would join up again with the Hobart Hurricanes in Australia’s T20 Big Bash League.

“I’m not sure how many more bubbles I’ve got left in me for the rest of the year,” he said. “I haven’t seen my family really since February and it is September now.

“The IPL is going to be most of October, November we [England] go to South Africa, hopefully.

“That only leaves me with a few weeks in December for the rest of the year. I love my Hobart family, but I think I need to spend some time with my real family as well.”

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2020

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