South Africa star Quinton de Kock has made himself unavailable for the T20 World Cup match against West Indies, just an hour after he was told to take the knee for the remainder of the tournament.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) felt forced to react after their team chose different methods to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement ahead of their five-wicket defeat by Australia last week.
Some of the Proteas side took the knee on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, while others stood on their feet and raised their fists. CSA have now ordered all Proteas players to take the knee before each of their remaining World Cup matches in the UAE.
De Kock, a former South Africa captain and one of the leading T20 stars in the world, has chosen, however, to sit out the important match, seemingly because of the team orders to take the knee.
Speaking at the toss ahead of Tuesday’s match against Kieron Pollard’s men, current captain Temba Bavuma said De Kock had pulled out of the game due to ‘personal reasons’.
De Kock has long chosen not to take the knee before matches, instead standing with his hands behind his back on many occasions while his team-mates either took the knee or followed other options made available to them.
South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, one of the leading cricketers in the world, has made himself unavailable for his country against West Indies in the T20 World Cup
De Kock can be seen on the far left here choosing not to take the knee before a T20 match against Sri Lanka last September – tensions on the issue for South Africa have been ongoing
Cricket South Africa have ordered their players to take the knee following their disjointed support for the Black Lives Matter movement against Australia last week (above)
Speaking at the toss, captain Temba Bavuma (right) revealed De Kock (left) had withdrawn from the match against West Indies for ‘personal reasons’
Tensions on the issue for South Africa have been ongoing since November last year, when the team said they had given themselves three options to show their support for the fight for social justice, including kneeling, raising a fist, or standing to attention.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, however, refused to explain the reasons behind his decision not to take the knee in June during a Test series against West Indies.
De Kock said: ‘My reason? I’ll keep it to myself. 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.’
The Proteas and their West Indies counterparts did all take the knee in Dubai, but the news about De Kock meant Heinrich Klaasen is keeping wicket for South Africa, while Reeza Hendricks was brought in to open the batting alongside Bavuma.
Klaasen was seen taking the knee ahead of the match and raising a clenched first in support of BLM.
De Kock was replaced by Heinrich Klaasen – who took the knee – as Proteas wicketkeeper
Speaking on commentary for the game, former Zimbabwe international Pommie Mbangwa said: ‘The lack of support for the initiative essentially means lack of support for people of colour within the team, in South Africa and in the world as a whole.
‘Excuse me if I sound political, but I can’t shed the colour of my skin.’
He also spoke of the ‘need’ for South Africa to ‘at least’ be ‘united’ on something ‘the world agrees on’, because ‘this is a country with a history of racism and exclusion.’
Meanwhile, former West Indies all-rounder Darren Sammy added: ‘As my mother always said, you’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.
‘Sometimes I don’t understand: why is it so difficult to support this movement, if you understand what it stands for?’
Indian cricket commentator and journalist Harsha Bhogle meanwhile said he feels de Kock may never play for his country again.
De Kock has long chosen to stand while his team-mates took the knee in previous matches
‘I fear we haven’t heard the last of the de Kock issue,’ he tweeted. ‘I won’t be surprised if we don’t see him in a Proteas shirt again.’
The Proteas appeared to have also paid the price for De Kock’s decision on the field, with Klaasen dropping the first chance that came his way when Lendl Simmons edged the ball to him off Anrich Nortje.
The CSA board forced the players’ hand with a statement published on Tuesday, which read: ‘Concerns were raised that the different postures taken by team members in support of the BLM initiative created an unintended perception of disparity or lack of support for the initiative.
‘After considering all relevant issues, including the position of the players, the board felt that it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a united and consistent stand against racism, especially given South Africa’s history.
‘Several other teams at the World Cup have adopted a consistent stance against the issue, and the board felt it is time for all South Africa players to do the same.’
Speaking on Tuesday, CSA board chairperson Lawson Naidoo added via Times Live: ‘A commitment to overcoming racism is the glue that should unite, bind and strengthen us.
Pommie Mbangwa (left) and Darren Sammy (right) spoke out against De Kock’s actions
‘Race should not be manipulated to amplify our weaknesses. Diversity can and should find expression in many facets of our daily lives, but not when it comes to taking a stand against racism.
‘South Africans were recently joined by people across the world in celebrating the 90th birthday of our revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
‘What better tribute from the Proteas to an icon of the struggle for freedom in South Africa than to demonstrate we are working to fulfil his vision of a united South Africa.’
The Proteas sat fourth in their Super 12 group ahead of facing West Indies, with England, Sri Lanka and Australia all winning their first games to sit above them.
After facing West Indies in Dubai, Bavuma’s men will take on Sri Lanka and England in Sharjah on consecutive Saturdays either side of next Tuesday’s match against Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi.
Both West Indies and Proteas players took the knee before their group match in Dubai