Quinton de Kock made himself unavailable for selection for South Africa’s game against West Indies on Tuesday for personal reasons. The news came just hours after Cricket South Africa (CSA) released a statement saying that all players should take the knee ahead of the game.
De Kock was one of a number of South Africa players who had not been taking the knee ahead of recent internationals, including the team’s tournament-opener against Australia, with some players kneeling, some raising a fist and some standing.
The inconsistencies with the way players have been acknowledging a stance against racism was one of the reasons CSA issued the clear directive to its team. And a follow-up statement from Cricket South Africa confirmed that De Kock’s absence was related to the issue.
“Cricket South Africa (CSA) has noted the personal decision by South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock not to “take the knee” ahead of Tuesday’s game against the West Indies,” the statement read.
“All players had been required, in line with a directive of the CSA Board on Monday evening, to “take the knee” in a united and consistent stance against racism,” Cricket SA continued. “This is also the global gesture against racism that has been adopted by sportspeople across sporting codes because they recognise the power of sport to bring people together.
“After considering all relevant issues, including the freedom of choice of players, the Board had made it clear it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a stand against racism, especially given SA’s history. The Board’s view was that while diversity can and should find expression in many facets of daily lives, this did not apply when it came to taking a stand against racism.
“The Board will await a further report from team management before deciding on the next steps. All players are expected to follow this directive for the remaining games of the World Cup.
“CSA thanks all other Proteas players for agreeing to unite and make such an important public stand against racism.”
And an ICC spokesperson said: “After some teams expressed the desire to make a gesture against racism, the ICC offered all teams the opportunity to do so if they wished.”
All South African players who took the field for the game against West Indies did take the knee, a move that was discussed on broadcast commentary by Pommie Mbangwa and Daren Sammy.
“United against racism, and they take the knee in support of that cause. And for the first time all together the South Africans, because of this directive that has come from the board,” Mbangwa said.
And former West Indies World Cup-winning captain Sammy replied: “That’s interesting. Always my mother would say, you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. It’s good to see players united on something that has affected so many people across the world.”
The change in official stance on taking the knee comes in the same year as hearings began in Cricket South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation Building project, which set out to address historic and current issues of discrimination within the organisation.
“I dare say Daren that cricket will take a back seat,” Mbangwa said as Tuesday’s match against West Indies began. “I know it’s a big statement for me to make at a Cricket World Cup, I speak because the team concerned are South Africa, with a history of exclusion and racism. And for this as an issue to still be here, and to rear here, well it’s huge.
“Excuse me for being political, because some will say it is being political, but I cannot shed my skin.
“I hope that the discussion at the very least can be had about how to be united about something everyone can agree on,” ICC commentator Mbangwa continued. “This is also in the hope that they can be in agreement in this regard.
“I’ll say this with regard to Quinton de Kock. Freedom of choice is fair enough. I don’t know what to speculate on what the personal reasons are because I haven’t got those, but I hope the discussion is actually had.”
Sammy added: “Sometimes I don’t understand why it is so difficult to support this movement if you understand what it stands for. There might be a lot of issues affecting the world. But I don’t understand why it’s so difficult.”
Prior to the match Cricket South Africa had set out their reasoning behind the change in stance on taking the knee.
“The Cricket South Africa (CSA) Board on Monday evening unanimously agreed to issue a directive requiring all Proteas players to adopt a consistent and united stance against racism by “taking the knee” prior to the start of their remaining World Cup matches,” a statement 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 SA’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 SA players to do the same.”
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