JOS Buttler insisted England are “very passionate” about highlighting anti-discrimination causes but International Cricket Council ICC) rules prohibit them from conducting their full ‘Moment of Unity’ at the T20 World Cup.
South Africa wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock’s refusal to take a knee in contravention of a directive from the country’s board and his withdrawal from a match against the West Indies placed the gesture into sharp focus.
It has been conducted before matches by several teams in this tournament and England followed the lead of the West Indies in doing so on Saturday in Dubai, underlining their stance of respectfully reciprocating their opponents.
England’s men’s side took the knee alongside the Windies and Ireland last year before the practice was quietly shelved, but they wore T-shirts carrying anti-discrimination messages in their home matches this summer.
Captain Eoin Morgan stated last week “if we could do that every game, we would” and was backed up by vice-captain Buttler on the eve of the game against Bangladesh, but the kit regulations for ICC events preclude them from doing so.
It is yet to be decided whether England will make an alternative gesture before the start of their match with Bangladesh, but Buttler made it clear his side were against all expressions of intolerance.
“Our position is we stand against any form of discrimination,” Buttler said. “What we’d like to do as a team is a ‘Moment of Unity’, which we did at times during our summer.
“I think we’d have to get some clearance from the ICC for that. It’s something we’d like to do as a team but I don’t know the specifics around it.
“We wanted to reciprocate the opposition. The West Indies like to take a knee so we wanted to reciprocate that in the first game.
“As a side and our culture as a team, we of course stand against any form of discrimination and we are very passionate about that.”
It is understood the ICC contacted the 16 teams ahead of the tournament about making anti-racism gestures, denying the England and Wales Cricket Board’s application for its players to wear their ‘Moment of Unity’ T-shirts.
“After some teams expressed a desire to make a gesture against racism, the ICC offered all the teams the opportunity to do so if they wished,” an ICC spokesperson said.
England started their campaign to become the first team to hold both World Cups simultaneously in dream fashion, with the 2019 50-over champions blowing away the Windies for 55 and then overhauling the target in just 8.2 overs.
Next up in the Super 12 stage are Bangladesh, who have never met England in a T20 while in the last five years the teams have only played against each other twice in any format.
“We know the challenges they’ll pose. We’ve played against them lots in 50-over cricket and they’re a dangerous side, they are a team full of match-winners,” Buttler said.
“The beauty of T20 cricket is anyone can beat anyone on their day, an individual can win a match for his team.
“But we prepare well, we’re a very level team in that we don’t get too high or low. We’ll try to bring our level of intensity, which always gives us the best chance of winning the game.”
Buttler sealed England’s six-wicket win in their tournament opener with 24 not out from 22 balls, having made a sparkling 73 in a warm-up against New Zealand after deciding to skip the rest of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“I’m feeling good,” he added. “I enjoyed that break. I thought it was good for me. In an ideal world you’d probably come into a tournament like this with maybe a little bit more cricket behind you and the IPL being here in the UAE would be the perfect lead into a tournament.
“But I think I’m in a position now where I’m experienced enough, I’ve played in these conditions before, I feel like I know what it takes in practice to get me in a position where I feel like I can go out there and perform.”
England could opt for an unchanged XI in Abu Dhabi against Bangladesh, with pace bowler Mark Wood unlikely to be risked after having an injection in his left ankle last week.