SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — England and West Indies players took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the start of play in the first test at Southampton as international cricket returned after a four-month absence.
Moments before the first ball was bowled at an empty Rose Bowl, West Indies’ fielding players knelt in the outfield while their England counterparts did the same around the field.
A Black Lives Matter logo also was on the collar of the test shirts worn by players from both teams for the match played in a strict isolated environment and following repeated testing of players and staff members.
The West Indies squad has said the movement, which has grown since the killing of George Floyd in the United States in May, has been a source of motivation on this tour.
The kneeling gesture has been made before Premier League matches since the resumption of soccer in England last month.
There was a minute’s silence in honor of those who died in the coronavirus pandemic and also West Indies great Everton Weekes, who died last week.
Play started after a three-hour delay because of light rain and a wet outfield, and only lasted for three overs before the teams had to go back inside because of another shower.
England was 1-1 after losing Dom Sibley, who was bowled by Shannon Gabriel.
England’s stand-in captain, Ben Stokes, won the toss and opted to bat under overcast skies.
Filling in for Joe Root, who was absent because of the birth of his second child, Stokes was captain for the first time and made a big call in leaving out fast bowler Stuart Broad — a long-time regular in the team.
Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and James Anderson made up England’s pace attack along with Stokes.
West Indies captain Jason Holder, who left out Rahkeem Cornwall, said he was “not too disappointed to be bowling first.”
After the toss was made, Stokes briefly forget about social distancing when he went to shake the hand of Holder. Holder move his hand away and both allrounders laughed.
England: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes (captain), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Dom Bess, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, James Anderson.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder (captain), Shane Dowrich, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel.
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