Anderson calls for action to tackle racism in cricket

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12 Jun 2020 | 07:45 AM
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Anderson calls for action to tackle racism in cricket

Anderson said cricket needed to do more, referring to research by ESPNcricinfo that there is currently just one state-educated black player in English county cricket

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James Anderson says English cricket must do more to "make the game for everybody", joining other sportsmen who have spoken out about racism across the globe.

Worldwide demonstrations sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in the United States are set to continue this weekend.

There have been suggestions that next month's Test series between England and the West Indies could see both sides taking a knee as a sign of support for Black Lives Matter.

"It's been a very thought-provoking few weeks for everyone," England bowler Anderson told reporters during a conference call. "It's made me do a lot of thinking."

The 37-year-old pointed to the abuse that team-mate Jofra Archer received from a spectator while on England duty last November.

He said: "I wasn't there in New Zealand when Jofra was racially abused. It made me think and it made me think 'have I turned a blind eye to things?' 

"I'd try to support my team-mates if they did suffer any sort of abuse but have I been active in supporting them on things like that?" 

Anderson said cricket needed to do more, referring to research by ESPNcricinfo that there is currently just one state-educated black player in English county cricket.

"That's just not OK," he said. "So I think again as a game we need to actively make this game for everyone. It can't keep going the way it is." 

Anderson eager 

Anderson missed most of last year's Ashes with a calf injury and was injured during the second Test of England's winter tour of South Africa.

But England's most successful Test bowler is looking forward to putting a "dodgy 12 months" behind him against the West Indies.

The series starts at Southampton on July 8, with the teams moving to Anderson's Lancashire home ground of Old Trafford for the next two Tests.

The bowler said taking five wickets in South Africa's first innings of the second Test in Cape Town in January had shown him he was still able to perform at the top level.

The veteran paceman, now bowling again in the nets, described his months of enforced inactivity due to COVID-19 as "very strange".

"There have been nice parts of it, he said. "I've been able to spend more time with my kids. I've found out that I'm not a very good teacher."

But Anderson, whose 584 Test wickets are the most taken by any fast bowler, insisted the lay-off had not made him contemplate hanging up his boots, despite speculation the season could be wiped out completely.

"It didn't make me think about retirement or anything like that," he said. "It just made me think 'we've got to keep training, you just never know', and stay fit for when that call does come.

"Strange as it was, all we could do was hope that we would get some cricket."

Anderson grateful for West Indies' 'scary' decision to tour England

Anderson has thanked the West Indies for taking the "scary decision" to tour England, with Britain suffering the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe.

More than 40,000 people are confirmed to have died from COVID-19 in Britain's outbreak so far.

The West Indies arrived in Manchester on Tuesday ahead of a three-match series behind closed doors that will begin at Southampton on July 8 and signal the return of international cricket after the virus lockdown.

"I think it's great for the game, brilliant that we're closing in on getting some Test cricket played after a decent lay-off," Anderson said.

International cricket is central to funding all levels of the game, with the England and Wales Cricket Board estimating it could lose £252 million ($320 million) if no matches of any kind were staged this season. 

Three West Indies players decided against touring but a 25-strong squad led by captain Jason Holder has travelled to England. 

"From our point of view we're very grateful the West Indies are coming over here," said Anderson.

"With what's going on in the world I can imagine it's a scary decision for a lot of them, for all of them, to make the journey over."

A trio of back-to-back games will make life tough for pacemen such as Anderson, England's most successful Test bowler.

At the age of 37, he is nearer the end than the start of his illustrious career and the past year has seen him miss games through injury, notably a broken rib. 

"There are concerns -- we're not going to have had any competitive cricket before that first Test match and we've got three Tests in quick succession, so there are obviously things we need to look at in terms of workloads and whether we play all three as bowlers or whether we rotate," said Anderson. 

"I'm sure the medical staff and coaches are doing their due diligence on that. It's something we'll have to look at in a few weeks' time but at the moment I'm enjoying being back and feeling really good."

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