Originally published in ClubcricketSA
Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock has explained the decision to withdraw from the Proteas’ XI for this week’s T20 World Cup match against the West Indies.
“I would like to start by saying sorry to my team-mates, and the fans back home,” de Kock wrote in a formal statement on Thursday.
“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.”
‘I come from a mixed race family’
“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,” added de Koc
“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.”
‘I have been called a lot of things’
“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,” continued de Kock.
“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 team-mates, and I would 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.”
‘Temba is a flipping amazing leader’
“I just want to thank my team-mates for their support, especially my captain, Temba Bavuma. People might not recognise, but he is a flipping amazing leader,” concluded de Kock.
“If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again.”
What Cricket South Africa said in response
Whether de Kock returns to the XI for Saturday’s fixture against Sri Lanka in Sharjah remains in the balance.
“Last night, the Cricket South Africa board chair and two directors met with the men’s Proteas team and management to discuss the board’s directive regarding ‘taking the knee’. The board representatives clarified the board position and engaged with the issues raised by the players,” stated CSA.
“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 Quinton de Kock in which he too has agreed to take the knee and issued an apology.
“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.”
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