Controversial moment Australian Test team takes a knee at series opener against the West Indies after taking part in an Indigenous barefoot circle - as fans slam the side for 'virtue signalling': 'Focus on cricket, not politics'
Australia's test team has taken a knee for the first time ever ahead of the first ball in the series opener against the West Indies in Perth, but many fans have slammed the gesture as 'woke' and 'virtue-signalling'.
Fans flooded Cricket Australia's post about the opening game of the Test summer at Optus Stadium with comments about wanting the national team to focus on cricket, not politics.
Taking the knee was a gesture popularised by the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and Australia captain Pat Cummins said the decision to join in was 'in support of equality'.
It comes as public interest and sentiment towards the Australian team has plummeted, with the stadium looking almost completely empty as the game began.
While this is a first for the test team, Australia's white-ball teams have taken the knee before when an opponent has done it, and elected to do it this time to support the West Indies' intention to do so.
'We've consulted with the West Indies team, who confirmed they will be taking a knee,' a Cricket Australia spokesperson told The Age earlier this week.
'As we've done in the West Indies and during the recent warm-up games we will support the West Indies team and take a knee alongside them.'
After singing the national anthems, both teams took a knee; with many West Indian players also raising their fists in a 'black power' salute - something which also features on their collars along with the term 'Black Lives Matter'.
But many fans considered it a token gesture that has been overused since rising to prominence in the wake of the George Floyd incident in the US in 2020.
'Get back to me when the players are focusing on cricket and not boring, self-righteous, political platitudes,' one wrote on Cricket Australia's Twitter post.
'Are the plonkers taking a virtue-signalling knee?' another asked, while many said the 'political wokeness' was turning them off the men's game.
That being said, many agreed that it was not the only reason why sentiment towards the team has plummeted, saying it had been 'poorly run for some time'.
Top limited overs spinner Adam Zampa, who doesn't currently feature in Tests, backed his skipper's stance.
The practicing vegan and climate crusader, who lives on a sustainable farm in Byron Bay, slammed cricket fans who questioned the team's recent surge in social activism.
'The same people that say (to be quiet) are always the ones telling us to try and not be vanilla as well,' Zampa said on SEN Radio.
'We have certain beliefs and if we're asked about it, we will tell the truth. I think Pat nailed it on the head yesterday. He's obviously copped quite a lot in the media.
'He's not the guy who will back down and then change his values because of what a few people will comment on their Facebook pages about it,' said Zampa.
Earlier in the week, Daily Mail Australia revealed shocking graphics that show Aussie cricket fans are 'voting with their feet' when it comes to attending games.
Tens of thousands of seats went, and still are, unsold - and that's despite ticket prices as low as they've been in recent memory.
Veteran West Australian cricket journalist John Townsend said he believed ticket sales hadn't even reached four figures yet.
'There's a lot of elements in Australian cricket and West Australian cricket at the moment that are working against the best interest of the game,' he told Sportsday WA.
'People will vote with their feet. Whether it'll be embarrassing or not, that's for the people to decide but I think (attendance) is going to be very low.'
'It could be a record-low West Australian Test.'
Earlier, the two sides also participated in a Barefoot Circle, as a show of respect to Indigenous peoples, with Optus Stadium on Noongar country.
According to Cricket Australia, the barefoot circle is a cricket centric way for players and teams to take a moment prior to matches to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, connect to each other as opponents and pay respect to the country.
This is done barefoot as a way to connect to country, but also a moment to reflect that we are all common ground.
Cummins said he was unconcerned as to whether fans supported the team or not in taking the knee or his opposition to sponsorship from a gas company due to his concerns over climate change.
'In this position, you’re always going to upset people,' he said.
'We’re cricket players, but you can’t leave your values at the door.
'Taking a knee this week, we’re doing it out of respect for the West Indies, in support of equality.
'Anyone who says that’s a bad thing, I’m not too bothered about.'