Kagiso Rabada has said he will always look to promote the Black Lives Matter message following South Africa’s “team decision” not to take a knee before the upcoming series against England.
The three-match Twenty20 international series that begins on Friday falls within a period of national mourning (25-29 November) that was called by South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to mark the victims of both the Covid-19 pandemic and gender-based violence.
With flags at Newlands and Boland Park due to fly at half-mast, and black armbands likely to be worn, the Proteas have opted against also taking a knee for BLM following talks between the players and head coach, Mark Boucher.
Boucher has previously said the symbolic gesture’s appearance before July’s 3TC match – a one-off exhibition game that trialled a new format and featured a number of South Africa’s internationals – demonstrated their support here.
Asked about this on Monday Rabada, South Africa’s most high-profile black cricketer, replied: “As a sportsman, spreading the right message is important. It is a huge responsibility, the things you say and stand up for. We spoke about it as a group and there are a lot of things to look at. BLM is 100% something I’ll always stand for and speak for myself.
“It was a team decision not to kneel and look at gender-based violence and devote ourselves to another cause. BLM will always be relevant and something I’ll always believe in. But Mark has stated the team won’t be kneeling and that’s how it is.”
Rabada comes into the three-match series, and the three one-day internationals that follow, in prime form personally, after finishing the recent Indian Premier League with a runners-up medal and top of the wicket-taking charts with 30 victims playing for Delhi Capitals.
The 25-year-old, already a veteran of 142 caps across all formats, did however acknowledge some difficulties bouncing from one biosecure bubble to another as cricket continues to be played during the global pandemic.
He said: “It can be quite tough. You can’t interact. You’ve basically lost your freedom. It’s like luxury prisons, but you just have to remind yourself how fortunate we are. People are struggling at the moment and we must be grateful for the opportunity to earn money and do what we love. We stay in great hotels, [but] it’s like a spoiled kid not getting what they want at the candy store.
“You’re just surrounded by four walls most of the time and that can be a factor mentally. Once we start playing it will take away from the desolate times.”
As well as relishing the upcoming battle with fellow quicks Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, Rabada cited England as a decent template for South Africa (ranked No 5 in both T20 and ODI cricket) to follow given their rise from World Cup no-hopers in 2015 to world champions four years later.
He added: “England are a good example of how you can turn a team around. We have lost some experienced players, some greats of the game, and now players like myself, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and David Miller have to show the example.
“I’m only 25 and I’m one of the more experienced players. That’s a challenge in itself but building up is what we’re trying to do. We have an identity and it’s just about brushing it up. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”