Old habits die hard in a coronavirus-wary society, as England and West Indies cricket captains Ben Stokes and Jason Holder proved as cricket’s first Test match since the pandemic began was to get underway.
Various regulations have been introduced to limit the contact between players as much as possible - extending even to handshakes between captains at the beginning of matches being off the table.
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Stokes and Holder had an unfortunate gaffe as they put the new rule to the test, with Holder forgetting about the handshake rule completely and gripping Stokes’ outstretched wrist, much to the amusement of commentators.
“You can’t do that, Ben! Social distancing and all that,” Ian Ward cracked while on the microphone for Sky Sport.
“Never mind, sanitise those hands.”
Both captains saw the funny side of the mistake, the the whole incident preceded something of an anti-climax for the return of Test cricket.
In typical English fashion, the toss was delayed by rain, with England eventually getting to 1/35 after just 17.4 overs on a frustrating first day.
The game was preceded by powerful and emotional speeches touching on the Black Lives Matter protests and issues of racial inequality and police brutality.
Michael Holding, Ebony Rainford-Brent stun with speeches
West Indian icon Michael Holding and England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent, revealed the heartbreaking toll racism has taken on the pair.
The Sky Sports pundits combined in a ‘Black Cricketers Matter’ movement to end racism within the game on a day that saw the West Indies and England squads take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The legendary fast-bowler and commentator recounted his first experience of racism, while playing cricket, which happened in his first tour of Australia.
Im not a cricket fan but this man transcends the game.— Jumpin Jack Frost (@djjjfrost) July 9, 2020
West Indies cricket great Michael Holding says society has been “brainwashed” into accepting racism and there's one way to fight it – education . 👊🏿💯 pic.twitter.com/Tk0TgVF5qt
“I went to Australia on my very first tour, 75-76, I had never experienced racism while on the cricket field...but I heard comments being passed [from the crowd] and I just thought, ‘these people are sick,’” Holding said on Sky Sports.
Holding said the very same thing happened during his time in England the following tour and racism became a reoccurring scar throughout his career.
Rainford-Brent, a former international player and now director of women’s cricket at Surrey, broke down when she alleged she had been subjected to racism in team environments.
“I’ve been in team environments, dealing constantly with people referring to ‘your lot,’” she said with tears in her eyes.
“I questioned myself why I stayed sometimes so long, I love the game, I think it has so much more to offer.
“But it can be really difficult dealing with that day in day out.”
She also called for a change in the way society approaches racism and education.