After all the waiting. Over a hundred days. And yet, day 1 of the England v West Indies test series provided just 17.4 overs, and wait we shall have to do again. Cricket was not the subject today. Something far more important was.
The day's most engaging moment was a trademark Sky short film. This time though, it was unlike any before, as Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent discussed racism, white supremacy and cricket. The film, in which both described harrowing experiences was eye-opening, and emotive. Yet the fact that it brought many to tears, while good, is not enough. It is good we are learning more about the deep-rooted racism in society, but is not enough. As Nasser Hussain pointed out, "we've all been looking away too long" and the fact that a badge has to be worn to say that black lives matter "should be a given". This is not enough. Why? Because equality, no matter the colour of one's skin, should be here now. The cricket today, while interesting, featured no brilliant performance. But even if it had, I would not recommend the highlights, but instead urge you to watch the film and following discussion, which can be found here and here. It will be difficult. And you will want to look away. Please watch.
While Holding and Rainford-Brent gave their words, the players provided symbols. All wore the Black Lives Matter logo on the collar of their shirts, and, just before the first ball at 2pm, all took the knee. The umpires in position, kneeling. The bowler, at the top of his mark, kneeling. The batsmen, on his guard, kneeling. The wicket-keeper, behind the stumps kneeling. The fielders, spread around the outfield, kneeling. The coaches, support staff, remaining players, around the boundary, kneeling.
Credit to Sky, for providing the space for Holding and Rainford-Brent to talk about racism.
The cricket, despite the long wait, played second fiddle to this. At the robot held toss, Ben Stokes chose to bat. England went without Stuart Broad, Jason Holder wanted to bowl anyway. Dom Sibley was bowled, a four-ball duck as Shannon Gabriel got the ball to angle in and crash into Sibley's stumps. He offered no shot. Joe Denly scratched, the ball swung, the rain returned. We came back, Denly drove, Burns blocked, the rain came back. Unto the breach once more, and Burns cut, the ball swung, and the light went bad. And that was it. 35-1 at close, Burns 20*, Denly 14*.
Find the day's scorecard here: https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19497/game/1225247/england-vs-west-indies-1st-test-west-indies-in-england-2020