Quinton de Kock will take the knee - and explains his U-turn

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Quinton de Kock had previously not taken the knee with his team-mates this year - AFP
Quinton de Kock had previously not taken the knee with his team-mates this year - AFP

Quinton de Kock has said that he will take the knee for the remainder of South Africa’s World Cup campaign, after missing the game with the West Indies when he withdrew over team orders regarding the anti-racism gesture.

Cricket South Africa told all players a few hours before Tuesday’s game that they must be united in taking the knee. This led to De Kock pulling out, but the 28-year-old has now apologised to the side and his country and said that he will take the knee in future matches, if selected.

“I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home,” he said in a statement. “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.”

De Kock, who revealed he has mixed race family, said that his decision to withdraw came when he felt that the policy of all players taking the knee was imposed without giving the team enough time to consider whether they wished to do so.

“I felt like my rights were taken away when I was told what we had to do in the way that we were told,” he said. “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.

“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."

Taking the knee has been a vexed issue in South African cricket since the Black Lives Matter movement became more prominent last year, after the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in the USA.

Cricket South Africa had previously allowed players to either take a knee, raise a fist or stand to attention before matches. During the tour of the West Indies earlier this year, De Kock had been the only player not to do any of these three options, attracting criticism from anti-racism campaigners.

De Kock, pictured far left during a game in September, said being called a racist for not taking the knee had hurt his family - GETTY IMAGES
De Kock, pictured far left during a game in September, said being called a racist for not taking the knee had hurt his family - GETTY IMAGES

Having said at the time that "I'll keep my reasons to myself and it is my own personal opinion," De Kock has now elaborated on his reasons, saying that he was deeply hurt by suggestions that his refusal to take the knee on Tuesday meant that he was racist.

“Being called a racist because of a misunderstanding hurts me deeply,” he said. “It hurts my family. It hurts my pregnant wife.

“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.

“The rights and equality of all people is more important than any individual.

South Africa’s next T20 World Cup match is against Sri Lanka at Sharjah on Saturday. De Kock, South Africa’s star batsman and wicketkeeper, is now set to return to the side. De Kock thanked skipper Temba Bavuma for his support.

“I just want to thank my teammates for their support, especially my captain, Temba,” he said. “If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again.”

Chris Jordan, who played alongside de Kock during the Hundred competition earlier this year, said it was time for cricket to "move on" from the controversy.

"We don't know what's come before we don't know what's to come after, so I try to keep as open a mind as possible.

"I know from playing cricket with Quinny as well I know what type of guy he is and whatever. Again, I didn't really have an opinion, because I don't know the facts, the ins and outs of it.

"Having said that, obviously, he's (de Kock) made his statement or whatever the case may be, so we must move on," Jordan said last night

The 33-year-old said that England would continue to take the knee for the remainder of the T20 World Cup but admitted it could take "some time" for the gesture to shift the landscape.

“I definitely think we will continue to take the knee,” Jordan said ahead of England’s clash with Australia tomorrow (SAT). “It's obviously a really good symbol.

“We're in a climate where this topic comes to the fore quite a lot. And any opportunity that we can get to educate or even show signs of unity, or whatever the case may be, we must take it."

Chris Jordan, who played alongside de Kock during the Hundred competition earlier this year, said it was time for cricket to "move on" from the controversy.

"We don't know what's come before we don't know what's to come after, so I try to keep as open a mind as possible.

"I know from playing cricket with Quinny as well I know what type of guy he is and whatever. Again, I didn't really have an opinion, because I don't know the facts, the ins and outs of it.

"Having said that, obviously, he's (de Kock) made his statement or whatever the case may be, so we must move on," Jordan said last night

The 33-year-old said that England would continue to take the knee for the remainder of the T20 World Cup but admitted it could take "some time" for the gesture to shift the landscape.

“I definitely think we will continue to take the knee,” Jordan said ahead of England’s clash with Australia on Saturday. “It's obviously a really good symbol.

“We're in a climate where this topic comes to the fore quite a lot. And any opportunity that we can get to educate or even show signs of unity, or whatever the case may be, we must take it."

De Kock drama reflects poorly on both player and Cricket South Africa board

Analysis by Tim Wigmore

Forty-eight hours after his refusal to take the knee saw him withdraw from a World Cup match - placing his tournament, and entire international future, in jeopardy - Quinton de Kock has returned to the South African fold.

“If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so,” he declared in a statement. With these words, de Kock announced that he will return to the side and is happy to take the knee.

Yet uncomfortable questions about the episode remain. In his statement, de Kock attacked how Cricket South Africa had only told the players that they must take the knee a few hours before Tuesday’s match with the West Indies.

“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,” de Kock said. “I think it would of [sic] been better for everyone concerned if we had sorted this out before the tournament started.”

Cricket South Africa did not mandate that players take the knee before their World Cup opener against Australia last Saturday. The board’s decision to compel all players to take a knee for the remainder of the World Cup seems to have largely been driven by optics.

While opponents were united in all taking the knee, South Africa’s side were divided - a terrible look, especially given the country’s history and the ongoing revelations from Cricket South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation-Building hearings into endemic racism within the sport. A better-run board would have sorted out their stance on taking the knee long before the World Cup.

Yet when de Kock said that he didn’t have much time to consider his stance, he was only half-right. In a deeper sense, he has had the 11 months since South Africa resumed playing international cricket after the murder of George Floyd and the new wave of Black Lives Matter protests.

During the tour of the West Indies in June and July, de Kock did not take the knee and never really explained why. “I’ll keep my reasons to myself and it is my own personal opinion,” was all he said about the matter.

Had he issued a statement then explaining his reasoning, de Kock might have been able to avoid the controversy of recent days. And he might have been able to avoid his captain, Temba Bavuma, being forced to explain a player’s refusal to take the knee rather than discuss a victory in the T20 World Cup.

Of one thing, at least, de Kock’s defenders and opponents alike will be able to agree upon: “there always seems to be a drama when we go to World Cups”, as de Kock observed in his statement.

News: Yorkshire take no action over Rafiq allegations

Yorkshire will take no disciplinary action against any of its employees, players or executives following an independent report into allegations of racism by former player Azeem Rafiq, the county has announced.

Yorkshire released a summarised version of the report on September 10, apologising and accepting that Rafiq had been a victim of "racial harassment and bullying" in his two spells at the club between 2008 and 2018.

But on Thursday the county issued a statement in which they said their own internal investigation had concluded "that there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action".

Rafiq tweeted to accuse Yorkshire of protecting their members of staff.

Rafiq ended his tweet with the phrase "Interesting timing again", a likely reference to the fact that Yorkshire released the summarised version of their report on the same day the fifth Test between England and India was called off. Today's announcment came hours after Quinton de Kock explained why he refused to take the knee during the World T20 yournament.

In their statement Yorkshire added: "None of this diminishes the importance of the findings or that fact that there is much the club can learn from the report.

"It was important for Azeem to raise the issues and without him doing so we would not have the panel's recommendations which are an important part of the club's continuing journey.

"Club chair Roger Hutton believes the club and everyone connected to it should be proud of the work that the club has done to improve diversity and inclusion prior to his involvement, but equally acknowledges there remains much to be done going forward.

"The club is fully supportive of what is a strong and talented team which is working hard on the recommendations on the way forward for Yorkshire County Cricket Club and looks forward being able to report on further developments over the coming months."

A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board read: "The ECB has this afternoon received a copy of the report carried out on behalf of Yorkshire CCC into the allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, together with assurances from the club to cooperate fully with the ongoing regulatory process.

"This is a matter with many serious allegations at its heart and the ECB's regulatory team will now consider the report as part of its investigation.

"We anticipate that it will take time for the regulatory process to reach its conclusion, but it is imperative that this is completed thoroughly and with fairness to all involved."

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