England and New Zealand will share ‘moment of unity’ ahead of first Test


England captain Joe Root confirmed both his side and New Zealand will take a “moment of unity” ahead of the first Test between the teams at Lord’s to highlight and try to drive out all forms of discrimination within the game.

The gesture, which will see Root and Kane Williamson lead their sides in a moment of silence around the boundary edge before play gets under way on Wednesday, marks the start of a series of initiatives designed to broaden cricket’s appeal among diverse and under-represented communities.

While Root kept his counsel about the details of the plans, they come a year after England took a knee alongside the West Indies before each of their three Tests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cricket faced some troubling claims last year, with ex-England batsman Michael Carberry saying racism is “rife” in the sport while Azeem Rafiq alleged he was racially discriminated against while with Yorkshire.

“We know at the start of last summer it unearthed some ugly truths in society and in our sport,” Root said on the eve of the first Test against New Zealand.

“We have had some long discussions about things. We have spent a lot of time talking about how we can better our game, how we can educate ourselves more.

“We have done some workshops recently to try and make ourselves a bit more comfortable dealing with those issues within the game and educating ourselves further.”

In the wake of last year’s allegations, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the implementation of a series of measures, including a new Equality Code of Conduct, in a bid to encourage “lasting change”.

Root added: “Throughout this summer, we will be looking at working with hopefully three projects where we can take the game to more diverse areas around the country where we can continue to look to grow the game and offer our help and support in doing that.

“We have spent a lot of time talking about this sort of thing but this year is all about action. It’s about actually doing something about it.

“It’s taken time. We wanted to make it really clear about how we are going to make a difference and keep bettering our sport. Hopefully this year we can really start to make a difference and keep that conversation current.

“Make sure it is the game for everyone, we make our game more diverse and we do as much as we can in that regard to grow the game and make everyone feel comfortable playing cricket.”