Lungi Ngidi, Cricket South Africa’s T20 Cricketer of the Year, received backlash from three former South African cricketers for his comments about the Black Lives Matter Movement and his call for cricketers to take anti-racism seriously.
“As a nation, we have a past that is very difficult, with racial discrimination, so it’s definitely something we will be addressing as a team and if we are not, it’s something I will bring up,” Ngidi said.
“It’s something that we need to take very seriously and like the rest of the world is doing, make the stand.”
Rudi Steyn, who played three Tests and one ODI for South Africa in the 1990s, shared an article on Ngidi’s comments on Facebook on Tuesday. Steyn said that the Proteas should not stand up for Black Lives Matter while ignoring the “slaughter” of white farmers in South Africa.
“I believe the Proteas should make a stand against racism, but if they stand up for ‘Black Lives Matter’ while ignoring the way white farmers are daily being ‘slaughtered’ like animals, they have lost my vote.”
The post received some attention on the social media platform, garnering 85 comments so far, two of which were from prominent former cricketers Boeta Dippenaar and Pat Symcox.
Dippenaar, who retired from international cricket in 2008, commented that “all lives matter” and called for Ngidi’s support on farm attacks if he wanted cricketers to support him on Black Lives Matter.
“I am afraid to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ have become nothing more than leftist political movement. I would suggest that Lungi Ngidi listens a bit more to likes of Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Walter Williams and Milton Friedman,” he commented.
“All lives matter. If you want me to stand shoulder to shoulder with you Lungi then stand shoulder to shoulder with me with regards to farm attacks.”
Pat Symcox, who played for South Africa between 1993 and 1998, trended on Twitter for his comments. Symcox called Ngidi’s remarks “nonsense” and said he should consider supporting the farmers of South Africa instead, criticising Cricket South Africa in the process.
“What nonsense is this. He must take his own stand if he wishes. Stop trying to get the Proteas involved in his belief. Besides the fact that right now Cricket South Africa should be closed down. A proper dog and pony show with cricket being dragged through the mud daily. Buy popcorn and watch. Now when Ngidi has his next meal perhaps he would rather consider supporting the farmers of South Africa who are under pressure right now. A cause worth supporting.”
As screenshots of the comments by Dippenaar and Symcox spread on social media, South Africans added their thoughts on the matter.
Some showed their support for Ngidi, calling the Facebook comments “callous” and “disappointing”, while others praised them for speaking up for farmers and against the Black Lives Matter movement. A few commented that both issues are equally important and should be supported concurrently, and some said political issues should be kept out of sports altogether.
Cricket is set to resume on 18 July after a three-month suspension of fixtures, with three teams of eight players competing for the inaugural Solidarity Cup.