T20 World cup: Quinton de Kock withdraws from South Africa team after CSA directive on taking the knee

South Africa’s Quinton de Kock pulled out of the T20 World Cup match against West Indies in Dubai on Tuesday in the wake of CSA’s board saying they had “unanimously agreed to issue a directive” that all cricket players should take a knee before matches.

Announced in a release on Tuesday, the board’s decision brings to head tension that has got heated over the issue since the team issued a statement on 25 November 2020 in which they said that they had given themselves three options to show their support for social justice – kneel, raise a fist, or stand to attention. However, De Kock had been a notable exception, who opted to stand with his hands slung casually behind his back along with various gestures.

At an online press conference, during South Africa’s Test series against the Windies in St Lucia in June this year, the star wicketkeeper-batter refused to explain his inaction, saying “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 board in their release, disagreed and said, “Concerns were raised that the different postures taken by team members in support of the BLM [Black Lives Matter] initiative created an unintended perception of disparity or lack of support for the initiative.”

Therefore, considering all relevant issues, and the position of the players, the Board felt, “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 SA players to do the same,” the board said.

SA’s media manager said that all the players had been informed of the board’s decision five hours before the start of Tuesday’s T20 match. Asked whether De Kock’s decision had been prompted by the board directive,

The manager, when asked whether De Kock’s decision had been prompted by the board directive,
said that she had been instructed to hand over enquiries on the matter to CSA’s communications head. He has yet to respond to queries, but word from the dressing room earlier was that De Kock had “made himself unavailable due to personal reasons”.

De Kock’s replacement behind the stumps, Heinrich Klaseen had also previously stood while his teammates had kneeled, but on Tuesday, he took a knee.

In the release, CSA board chair Lawson Naidoo said, “A commitment to overcoming racism is the glue that should unite, bind and strengthen us. 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,” he said.

In 1652, due to the arrival of European colonizers, black and brown South Africans were subjugated under racist actions and legislation until apartheid was defeated at the ballot box in 1994. However, racial inequality, experienced in social and economic terms, still remains rife in South Africa.

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