Jofra Archer has claimed Michael Holding “doesn’t know anything that is going on behind the scenes” after he criticised England and Australia for failing to take a knee during their limited-overs series.
Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler, has been a vocal advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months. As well as providing impassioned testimony of his experiences on Sky and with ESPNcricinfo, he welcomed the decision of the England, West Indies and Ireland teams to register their respect for the movement by taking a knee ahead of their Test and ODI fixtures earlier this season.
But he described the failure of Pakistan, Australia and England to do so ahead of their recent matches as “lame” and suggested individual players could unilaterally make the gesture if they wanted to “send a signal” to show they “accept things need to change”.
But Archer, England’s Barbados-born fast bowler, has insisted nobody involved within the England set-up has “forgotten” about the movement and claimed progress is being made “in the background”.
“I’m pretty sure Michael Holding doesn’t know anything that is going on behind the scenes,” Archer said. “I don’t think he has spoken to [ECB chief executive] Tom Harrison. I’ve spoken to Tom and we have stuff running in the background. We’ve not forgotten. No-one here has forgotten about Black Lives Matter.”
“I think that is a bit harsh for him to say that. I think it is a bit harsh for Mikey to not do some research before criticising.”
The “background” measures referred to by Archer include the ECB setting up an Inclusion and Diversity taskforce, a commitment to increasing the representation of non-white individuals in leadership roles, a game-wide anti-discrimination charter and a bursary scheme for young black coaches, with a focus on “leadership, education and opportunity”. There will also be a further drive to reintroduce cricket in primary schools, with a focus on ethnically diverse areas.
But Holding, responding to Archer’s comments, told ESPNcricinfo there should be no conflict between taking action in the background and continuing to make a gesture in public.
“Taking a knee does not prevent other action from taking place,” Holding said. “Those who take a knee are not substituting the gesture for other positive action. Nobody should have a problem with it. It is a worldwide recognition of calling attention to racial prejudice and injustice.”
Meanwhile, Archer welcomed the crackdown by social media companies upon those making racial abuse online. But he did suggest legislation “might have to go a bit further” given that he continues to receive abuse on a regular basis.
“I think a lot of stuff is being put into place now,” he said. “People can be prosecuted a bit easier, but I think it might have to go a bit further because some people still aren’t worried about what can happen to them.
“I had one the other day; the guy blamed it on being drunk. My mum would always say ‘you can’t think for people’. As long as there is social media and the person doesn’t have to confront you it will still go on.
“I feel the love from fans, too. But there’s still a small percentage, you know? I may be doing well but I saw one lady comment on my [gold] chains. Chains have nothing to do with cricket. If she knew me she would know I’ve worn chains from the time I was 14 or 15 years old. You can’t make everyone happy, but the majority of people in England are happy and that makes me happy.
“All we can do is try to act accordingly, report it and do what’s best. At the end of the day I think I’m strong enough to deal with it, but what happens when they start targeting someone who isn’t as mentally strong and it starts affecting them? We’ve got to try and stamp it out as much as possible now.”