Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock has issued an apology to his teammates and “fans back home” following controversy over his earlier refusal to take the knee.
De Kock made himself unavailable for the Proteas’ World Cup T20 match against the West Indies earlier this week, apparently after a Cricket South Africa directive that all players should take the knee as a gesture against racism.
This sparked intense debate between those who advocate for freedom of choice and those who felt de Kock had let the team and anti-racism message down.
Quinton de Kock to take the knee
However, in a statement on Thursday (28 October), de Kock apologised and said he was “more than happy” to take the knee.
“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.”
‘My rights were taken away’
The talented left-hander explained that since he comes from a mixed-race family, “Black lives have mattered since I was born, [and] not just because there was an international movement.”
He said he was raised to understand that “we all have rights,” adding that he felt his rights were taken away when Cricket South Africa issued the directive that “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,” de Kock explained.
“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.”
Cricket South Africa welcomes statement
Cricket South Africa welcomed de Kock’s statement soon afterwards, saying its Board chair and two directives had met the team and its management to clarify the earlier directive.
“Following the meeting, the Proteas men’s team agreed to align and unify in taking the knee for the remaining fixtures of the World Cup campaign. CSA has also noted the statement issued by Quenton de Kock in which he too has agreed to take the knee and issued an apology,” it said.
“Cricket South Africa welcomes all of these developments. They confirm Cricket South Africa’s commitment to non-racism. Taking a united stance against racism is a moral issue, not a political issue. The CSA Board regrets that the timing of its directive earlier this week may have been unsettling for the players in the lead-up to the match against the West Indies.”