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ANALYSIS: PUSHING BOUNDARIES

De Kock apologises for withdrawing from team but questions timing of CSA ‘take knee’ directive

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 20: South Africa captain Temba Bavuma takes the knee as team mate Quinton De Kock looks on ahead of the Pakistan and South Africa warm Up Match prior to the ICC Men's T20 World Cup at on October 20, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Gareth Copley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)
By Craig Ray
28 Oct 2021 22

Quinton de Kock has said he has ‘no problem’ taking the knee, but refused to do so on Tuesday because Cricket South Africa issued a directive forcing players to do it.

After 48 hours of silence, Proteas wicketkeeper and leading batter Quinton de Kock has apologised for withdrawing from the team after refusing to heed a Cricket South Africa (CSA) directive to “take a knee”. 

Hours before the start of the Proteas’ second T20 World Cup match against the West Indies in Dubai on Tuesday, CSA issued a directive to the team that they all had to take a knee as an anti-racism gesture.

The timing of the directive was surprising considering the squad had been through months of “culture camps” and other discourses on the matter without a blanket policy being formulated.

That De Kock reacted poorly, especially towards his teammates and skipper Temba Bavuma in particular, leaving the captain to try to explain the situation, is not in doubt.

That CSA handled the situation like a fielder wearing oven mitts is also not in question. The upshot was a worldwide furore that left De Kock painted as a racist in some quarters. It’s a claim he strongly denied in a statement to explain his actions.

“I felt like my rights were taken away when I was told what we had to do in the way that we were told,” De Kock said in the statement released on Thursday.

“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.”

In the immediate aftermath of the issue on Tuesday, Bavuma appeared to be the only adult in the room as he eloquently and with great empathy explained his and the team’s view on the matter.

“As much as we are a team, we wear the same shirt, we play for the same badge, outside of that we still live our own lives and those lives are different by the very nature that we live in South Africa,” Bavuma said after South Africa’s eight-wicket win over the West Indies.

“Over the last while I have learnt to appreciate that a lot more, try to widen your own perspective as an individual and not expect people to see things the way you see things. My beliefs, the way that I see things, is shaped by my own background, and so is the other person’s. 

“If there is a disagreement in terms of beliefs, in terms of views, that’s why we have those hard conversations. Through those conversations we will be able to get the comfort to accept the other person’s decision. I can’t force anyone to see things the way I do, neither can they force me to.”

Apology

De Kock, who has spent the past two days mulling his decision and talking to his teammates, apologised.

“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,” De Kock’s statement said.

“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 stepmom 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 are more important than any individual. I was raised to understand that we all have rights, and they are important.

“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. 

“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 have 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.”

CSA said on Thursday it regretted the timing of the directive. 

“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.” DM

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All Comments 22

    • Turns out he is not a racist (as the social justice warrior brigade so eagerly assumed), or taking a stand on some strong moral/religious conviction (as I so quickly assumed), but actually just doesn’t like to be told what to do. The person who took the right line here is Temba Bavuma – I tip my hat to you captain. CSA and and the racism inspectorate have well deserved pie on their faces – and so do I 😉

  • I sincerely hope that Quinton has educated the woke fascists on this forum who leapt to conclusions on zero evidence. Perhaps this journalist too.

    Well done Quinton for showing CSA what a bunch of tin-pot dictators they are.

    But the man a bells and remember only Nazis force other people to salute them.

    • As one of of your ‘woke fascists’ and a South African of colour, I strongly disagree with your framing of the issue. It’s not a case of standing up to tinpot Nazi dictators [do you know what the Nazis were actually about?] but about being a member of a team, an employee and an ambassador of your country. When the English, Australian Indian West Indies etc etc teams take the knee as a gesture of solidarity what makes Quinton so special that his so-called personal freedoms trump all else??

      • Graham, I am sorry that you self identify as a fascist and I fear for a country dominated by people of your ilk.

        South Africa is a constitutional democracy and freedom of belief and association are enshrined in that constitution. If you prefer a fascist dictatorship where only a single viewpoint is tolerated then perhaps you are living in the wrong country.

        Neither you nor CSA have the right in South Africa to compel Quinton’s political beliefs according to our law.

        Additionally you might be surprised what BLM actually stands for. Do you have any idea?

  • One thing I’ve learned during this whole saga, is the despicable behaviour of CSA. I really don’t know what they were trying to achieve (which they call unity), but they failed miserably. The chairman made an absolute fool of himself, but what disgusts me more is that there are some credible people on the board of CSA. including Adv. Arendse and Andrew Hudson (former Protea opening batsman). To me it seems that this dictatorial decision to instruct players to take a knee at short notice was a-typical ANC behaviour, and also an effort to score brownie point with a useless minister of sport, art and culture. They think they earned respect from people, and think players must take the knee to them because they are THE BOARD. Cricket lovers don’t care about you, they care about the sport and its players. If the ANC gets 50% or more of the vote in the municipal elections, their arrogance will just grow and grow, and ANC municipal majors and councillors will no doubt expect citizens to go down on both their knees, with both arms in the air, in a praying salute.
    Quinton, I have had the greatest respect for you since I first heard of you when you were only 17 years old, and how you behaved yourself on and off the field, including being the captain of the under-19 Proteas. Since then you have became one of our star players, on equal footing with AB, Dale, and Rabada. Put this thing behind you, as you have more character than all the CSA board members combined

  • My religion taught me that I bow to no man only to G-d Mr Naidu and the rest of CSA you have shown us you are nothing but cheap RACISTS. You are only creating more devision amongst our people or are you acting on instruction from that useless comrade minister??Quinton keep you head up and don’t let these goons from CSAback you into a corner. Ex cricket lover.

  • Once again, great debate between intelligent people, both sides showing understanding of the stance, and being big enough to apologise. I like that, creates atmosphere of understanding for both Party’s & Players. More of this kind of interaction for SA 🇿🇦

  • Well done Quinny, a very mature response and I appreciated your support for Temba Bavuma who appears to have kept a cool head throughout. And the quick poll put out showed a 74,17% support for you and your stance at the last count. If we go back in history to Lorgat forcing AB de Villiers into taking an injured Philander into an important game with threats of legal action if he stood down as he threatened to do, to the very political current team selection leaving the likes of FAF du Plessis out to name only one , it is clear that CSA have not learned anything from history and have no desire to win coveted titles on the international stage. That’s what happens when a group of essentially non cricketers with political connections are foisted on a sport like cricket, their self serving ambitions come to the fore. I will be supporting one of the other teams if only to spare myself the disappointment of our National team being placed at a disadvantage by such a motley crew of incompetent administrators from the President of CSA downwards.

  • How much better I would feel if CSA instructed the Proteas to “take the knee” to draw attention to the appalling daily murders of mainly black South Africans (around 50/day) or the equally appalling statistics for gender-based violence in South Africa. Now that would be a meaningful gesture.

    • Ditto… but CSA Board members, are like the untouchable…were are gods, and we rule…who cares about individual rights, deaths, and freedom of expression. What a despicable bunch they, like all the other CSA Boards and CES’s in but a few years. Just pay us, and we’ll give more instructions to the real players, to please the politicians

  • CSA’s apology is a tad thin. “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.”

    May have been? It’s a royal duck, CSA.

  • De Kock is revealing his weaknesses – lack of integrity, maturity and professionalism – all of which his captain Bavuma has in abundance. Whatever his personal views, beliefs, etc the thing to do is to support your captain and your team – and then have the dissenting conversation – not the other way around!

  • Some people have a natural resistance to being obliged to follow meaningless gestures. Yes, take your hat off when entering a church not to be obviously offensive, but don’t ask me to kiss an inanimate object. Or take Larry David who refuses to say “thank you for your service ” to an ex marine to the dismay of those around him. Why should group thinking force a person to follow a ritual to prove they are like thinking and why indeed should anybody be forced to wear his heart on his sleeve. Having said that, no public figure in the UK will dare not to wear a poppy on 11 November, and no American politician will dare not to bow his head in prayer, even if he is wondering when lunch will be served

  • CSA still highlighting their “stupidity” and political involvement.
    What do Bafana Bafana do before matches?
    Also the other teams who “took the knee” did so voluntarily and not on instructions.
    What about showing the same gesture for “violence against women” where SA has the unenviable record as the worst in the world.
    Finally surely it is time that sport is run by sportsmen and women, and not by self seeking persons.

  • well said Mr De Kock and you are more of a man than any of those idiots who called you a racist and the CSA board who took your freedom of choice away. they should be apologising to the nation but none of them have a spine as has been shown with their management of Cricket SA.

  • Like many woke journalists, Firdose Moonda is retrospectively bending the story to validate her initial clearly emotional rather than rational response.

    Moonda: “The act of taking a knee has been described as a gesture of antiracism, rather than a gesture in support of Black Lives Matter, and that is another significant point. Although BLM has become synonymous with the fight against racism, the two do not have to be the same thing, especially in a country like South Africa, where the right for racial equality predates the BLM movement. The BLM organisation is seen by some in South Africa (and elsewhere) as a radical political, and even Marxist, movement rather than a civil-rights activist collective that speaks to global issues of exclusion.”

    CSA original statement: “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.”

    This is what’s known as “moving the goalposts”. It’s just not cricket, indeed.

    Firdose admits that BLM is a contraversial political movement and so in order to justify her visceral support for ‘taking the knee’ she waves her magic wand and claims effectively that ‘this was never about BLM’. Unfortunately for her nobody bothered to tell reality the same thing – the CSA had already spoken.

    This is a very simple case of compelled political association. The woke of course dress it up as a virtuous discussion about racism. It’s very clear tho that those in support are after control and even retribution (Quinton is a white racist – he needs to be punished for Apartheid). This is Fascism. Beware!

  • Well done Quinton. And especially well done Temba. You guys are the heroes and you did everything 100% correctly. I won’t say anything about CSA because there is nothing to say about an institution of nobodies doing nothing.

  • For Craig Ray to ponder.

    Is the presence of Taliban hats in support of Afghanistan in the crowds a stronger cultural message than “taking the knee”?

    One does know exactly what one is “kneeling down” before?

    I feel sorry for Micheal Holding. He has positioned himself on support for BLM – the American “Black Lives Matter” movement, rather than just non-racial approach to life.

    Mr Holding like Mr Sowell before him are against quotas according to his contribution to the very political and retributal “social justice” interrogation into SA cricket.

    Makaya Ntini was an outsider? Of course he was. He had no way to even engage with most of the rest of the team. Totally different background. Unfortunately for him, minority background.

    Mark Boucher has done really good work with the SA team to ensure that it is cohesive.

    Ngidi and vd Dussen can choose to deliberately support BLM by taking the knee. Everyone else can choose their own gesture, or none.

    The team had worked on this for almost a year. They are a team with understanding and respect for each other.

    Unfortunately the tin pot dictators chose to step in. J Reddy or Graham Falken, I would like you to both reflect on your personal life. Do you judge quiet white people as obviously racist?

    If so, and it seems you are those people – you are the racists in our society.

    Everyone thought Quinton de Kock was a whitey racist. I thought he was a coloured like me – not interested in black political statements.

    Turns out it is a bit of everything.

    Remember only fascists or totaliarians require everyone to salute you.

    The “taking the knee” will become a joke sooner or later. Trust me. Ozimandias anyone?

  • Craig Ray, you need to think of what psychological impact deliberate quotas or BEE or even triple BEE have on the recipients of that quota.

    And we have to take that judgement of racial quota in the SA context according to the real impact it has.

    Demographic skin colour or cadre deployment strategy will only reinforce racial judgements, and yes from a coloured western cape perspective too.

    The problem with Makaya Ntini and Ashwell Prince is that everyone was left to themselves in the old days. It is not surprising that they felt like outsiders.

    I always thought Ashwell Prince was under-appreciated. But that’s my coloured bias.

    The rest of the racial quota wannabes – Tsotsobe? Good bowler but didn’t last cos he was clearly just lazy. Compare him to Dale Steyn who he kept out of the SA side for a while cos – well – quotas.

    A black skin is more important than basic commitment or skills.

    This is what we all know and what sir Micheal Holding said.

    I’m just so sad that he supports BLM. Does he honestly think that his kids would be better raised in state institutions than with him? Does he really think that the overthrow of capitalism will make blacker people like us prosper? I don’t think so.

    I think all radical political movements like BLM are very childish.

    So are salutes to those political movements.

    I’m OK if childish people want to take childish political positions. That’s their right.

    But please don’t force me to take your position because I will take guns against you like I did against Apartheid. Graham Falken were you even alive in those days?