(ESPNCricinfo) — Former West Indies captain Daren Sammy and senior batsman Chris Gayle have become the first active cricketers to join a growing number of sports personalities worldwide in publicly raising their voice against the scourge of racism following the custodial killing of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman in Minneapolis.
Sammy, in a series of tweets on Monday, urged both the ICC and cricket boards to stand up against the “injustice” of racism against “people of color”, an issue that his former team-mate Gayle said was prevalent in cricket.
On Tuesday, former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara also put out a thread of eight tweets on the issue, saying that the events in the USA were a “powerful lesson to us all”.
Floyd, 46, a black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 – a death now officially classified as homicide after a white police officer had held him down with his knee on his neck for over eight minutes while he was handcuffed. The incident, captured on video, has sparked widespread, angry protests across the USA.
Several sportspersons have spoken out since then, with basketball great LeBron James putting out a social media post referencing Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who famously kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
The ICC said that it has always condemned racism and had “zero tolerance” towards it. “As part of the Code [of Conduct], the players not only get punished, but also have to go through an education programme to promote a better understanding and awareness of issues directly relevant to the offence that he has committed. There is also a conciliation element to the proceedings,” the ICC told ESPNcricinfo, when approached for a comment.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards this sort of conduct and it can be punished with a lifetime ban. We provide guidelines to our members and we also make it clear that no discriminatory behaviour of any kind will be tolerated by anyone at the event – staff, media, fans etc.”
The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) tweeted a picture of Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Adil Rashid hugging, captioned: “We stand for diversity. We stand against racism.”
Several players have been sanctioned under the ICC’s anti-racism code with former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed being a prominent recent example.
Sarfaraz received a four-match ban last January after he admitted to making a racist comment to South Africa all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo during an ODI in Durban.
Nambia all-rounder Christi Viljoen was penalised by the ICC in June last year, for “inappropriate” sledges directed towards Uganda players at the T20 World Cup Africa Qualifiers.
Ian Bishop, the former West Indies fast bowler who is now a prominent television commentator, also spoke out on Twitter, saying that the world, in its current state, was in pain and needed help healing.