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Cricketer Quinton de Kock slams South Africa’s board for FORCING players to take the knee

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South Africa star Quinton de Kock has hit out at the country’s cricket board for forcing their players to take the knee during the ongoing T20 World Cup in the UAE.

The Proteas star sensationally pulled out of their T20 victory against West Indies on Tuesday after their board ordered them to ‘to adopt a consistent and united stance against racism’ and take a knee ahead of every match.

But the 28-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman decided during the coach journey to the Dubai International Cricket stadium that he would not join in, leaving South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma to announce at the toss that De Kock had withdrawn due to ‘personal reasons’.

Fears that former captain De Kock had represented his country for the last time subsequently grew, with CSA having taken action after their players chose to adopt different methods to show support in the fight for social justice in their first game of the tournament against Australia.

But in a statement provided by Cricket South Africa, De Kock broke his silence on the matter by insisting he did not mean to cause offence, claiming the gesture of taking the knee has little meaning if players are forced to do so.

‘I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home,’ De Kock said.

‘I never ever wanted to make this a Quinton issue. I understand the importance of standing against racism, and I also understand the responsibility of us as players to set an example.

Quinton de Kock (R) slammed South Africa's cricket board for forcing players to take a knee

Quinton de Kock (R) slammed South Africa’s cricket board for forcing players to take a knee

Cricket South Africa ordered their players to take the knee following their disjointed support for the Black Lives Matter movement against Australia last week (above)

Cricket South Africa ordered their players to take the knee following their disjointed support for the Black Lives Matter movement against Australia last week (above)

DE KOCK FULL STATEMENT

‘I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home.

‘I never ever wanted to make this a Quinton issue. I understand the importance of standing against racism, and I also understand the responsibility of us as players to set an example.

‘If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so.

‘I did not, in any way, mean to disrespect anyone by not playing against West Indies, especially the West Indian team themselves. Maybe some people don’t understand that we were just hit with this on Tuesday morning, on the way to a game.

‘I am deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused.

‘I was quiet on this very important issue until now. But I feel I have to explain myself a little bit.

‘For those who don’t know, I come from a mixed race family. My half-sisters are Coloured and my step mom is Black. For me, Black lives have mattered since I was born. Not just because there was an international movement.

‘The rights and equality of all people is more important than any individual.

‘I was raised to understand that we all have rights, and they are important.

‘I felt like my rights were taken away when I was told what we had to do in the way that we were told.

‘Since our chat with the board last night, which was very emotional, I think we all have a better understanding of their intentions as well. I wish this had happened sooner, because what happened on match day could have been avoided.

‘I know I have an example to set. We were previously told we had the choice to do what we felt we wanted to do.

‘I chose to keep my thoughts to myself, and thought of the pride of playing for my family and my country.

‘I didn’t understand why I had to prove it with a gesture, when I live and learn and love people from all walks of life every day. When you are told what to do, with no discussion, I felt like it takes away the meaning. If I was racist, I could easily have taken the knee and lied, which is wrong and doesn’t build a better society.

‘Those who have grown up with me and played with me, know what type of person I am.

‘I’ve been called a lot of things as a cricketer. Doff. Stupid. Selfish. Immature. But those didn’t hurt. Being called a racist because of a misunderstanding hurts me deeply.

‘It hurts my family. It hurts my pregnant wife [Sasha].

‘I am not a racist. In my heart of hearts, I know that. And I think those who know me know that.

‘I know I’m not great with words, but I’ve tried my best to explain how truly sorry I am for making like this is about me.

‘It is not.

‘I won’t lie, I was shocked that we were told on the way to an important match that there was an instruction that we had to follow, with a perceived ‘or else.’ I don’t think I was the only one.

‘We had camps. We had sessions. We had zoom meetings. We know where we all stand. And that is together.

‘I love every one of my teammates, and I love nothing more than playing cricket for South Africa.

‘I think it would of been better for everyone concerned if we had sorted this out before the tournament started.

‘Then we could have focused on our job, to win cricket matches for our country.

‘There always seems to be a drama when we go to World Cups. That isn’t fair.

‘I just want to thank my teammates for their support, especially my captain, Temba. People might not recognise, but he is a flipping amazing leader.

‘If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again.

‘QDK.’

‘I won’t lie, I was shocked that we were told on the way to an important match that there was an instruction that we had to follow, with a perceived ‘or else.’ I don’t think I was the only one.

‘We had camps. We had sessions. We had zoom meetings. We know where we all stand. And that is together.

‘I love every one of my teammates, and I love nothing more than playing cricket for South Africa.

‘I think it would of been better for everyone concerned if we had sorted this out before the tournament started.

De Kock has regularly refused to do so, seen on the far left here electing not to take a knee before a T20 match against Sri Lanka last September

De Kock has regularly refused to do so, seen on the far left here electing not to take a knee before a T20 match against Sri Lanka last September

De Kock decided on the coach journey to the ground ahead of the West Indies match that he would not take a knee and would not feature in the match

De Kock decided on the coach journey to the ground ahead of the West Indies match that he would not take a knee and would not feature in the match

‘Then we could have focused on our job, to win cricket matches for our country.

‘There always seems to be a drama when we go to World Cups. That isn’t fair.

‘I just want to thank my teammates for their support, especially my captain, Temba. People might not recognise, but he is a flipping amazing leader.

‘If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again.’

After Bavuma’s side put the distraction behind them to brush West Indies aside by eight wickets earlier this week, with the current captain admitting he had been ‘surprised and taken aback’ by the development.

Captain Temba Bavuma (right) revealed De Kock (left) had withdrawn from the match against West Indies for 'personal reasons'

Captain Temba Bavuma (right) revealed De Kock (left) had withdrawn from the match against West Indies for ‘personal reasons’

His replacement Heinrich Klaasen (left) did take the knee ahead of their victory on Tuesday

His replacement Heinrich Klaasen (left) did take the knee ahead of their victory on Tuesday

He said it had been ‘one of my toughest days to deal with as a captain’, but added: ‘Quinton is an adult. You have to respect his decision, whether you agree with it or not. I can’t force others to see things the way I do, and neither can they force me.’

Bavuma said the South African board’s decision to impose their edict on the morning of a crucial World Cup game was ‘not ideal’. 

And while he described De Kock as ‘still one of the boys’, he admitted the dressing room had not yet properly digested the implications of his stance. ‘We have to find a way to move forward,’ he said.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard, an IPL team-mate of De Kock’s at Mumbai Indians, appeared unaware of the day’s events but said taking a knee was ‘something we feel strongly about as a team and as a people’, adding: ‘We will continue to do it. Everyone has their own opinions on it. Education is the key.’ 

In the commentary box on Tuesday, former Zimbabwe seamer Pommie Mbangwa could not hide his disappointment. ‘Excuse me for being political,’ he said, ‘but I cannot shed my skin.’

De Kock has long chosen to stand while his team-mates took the knee in previous matches

De Kock has long chosen to stand while his team-mates took the knee in previous matches

De Kock insists being called a racist has hurt him and his pregnant wife Sasha (right)

De Kock insists being called a racist has hurt him and his pregnant wife Sasha (right)

Fellow commentator Daren Sammy, a former West Indies captain, was also dismayed, saying: ‘There are other issues affecting the world but I don’t understand why it is so difficult.’

It is not the first time De Kock has gone against the actions of the rest of his team-mates. In June, before a Test match against West Indies in St Lucia, he was the only Proteas star to opt against the gesture. 

‘I’ll keep my reasons to myself,’ he later said. ‘It’s my own personal opinion. It’s everyone’s decision; no one’s forced to do anything, not in life. That’s the way I see things.’

It however appears more likely now that he plays for his country once more following his apology, with Sri Lanka up next on Saturday.

Cricket South Africa however responded to his actions on Tuesday by putting out another statement, insisting ‘it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a stand against racism, especially given South Africa’s history’.

Former Zimbabwe international Pommie Mbangwa spoke out against De Kock's actions

As did former West Indies all-rounder Darren Sammy

Pommie Mbangwa (left) and Daren Sammy (right) spoke out against De Kock’s actions

And the media in the country were left shocked by the actions of their former captain, with South African newspaper The Citizen summing up cricket’s racial politics – especially in that country – with the headline: ‘Cricket on its knees.’

Support for De Kock did come within the same publication though as another story on their website read: ‘De Kock: Cricket maverick standing up over kneeling down’ – highlighting the split mood within South African media.

However, in a different publication, IOL writer Zaahier Adams was rather damning of De Kock for not taking the knee: ‘If players like de Kock does not understand the reasons for its necessity, it then needs to be explained to him because it is long overdue,’ he wrote.

The controversy comes not long after uncomfortable stories were told in front of South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation-Building Committee.

Among them, current head coach and ex-wicketkeeper Mark Boucher admitted he had taken part, during his playing days, in a team song in which spin bowler Paul Adams was referred to as a ‘brown s***’. Boucher said he deeply regretted his behaviour.

South African paper The Citizen's front page led with the headline 'Cricket on its knees'

South African paper The Citizen’s front page led with the headline ‘Cricket on its knees’

But the De Kock incident is just the latest issue to mar a Proteas World Cup campaign, with AB de Villiers having made himself available for selection just 24 hours before the squad announcement for the 50-over 2019 World Cup.

The selectors decided not to include him despite his offer to reverse his international retirement, causing a major storm in the country, especially following their dire campaign in England and Wales.

But the current Proteas side were boosted after beating the defending champions on Tuesday after their opening-game defeat by Australia. 

They face both Sri Lanka and England in Sharjah on consecutive Saturdays either side of a meeting with Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi. 



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