T20 World Cup: De Kock knee episode will galvanise - not divide - South Africa after apology, says Maharaj

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 (Getty Images,)
(Getty Images,)

South Africa’s players have been ‘brought together’ by the episode surrounding Quinton de Kock’s refusal, and subsequent apology, over not taking the knee, according to Keshav Maharaj.

The spinner’s comments ahead of Saturday’s game with Sri Lanka appeared at odds with captain Temba Bavuma, who had said his team were “obviously surprised and taken aback” by De Kock’s original decision.

Ahead of Tuesday’s game against West Indies, a directive was issued from South Africa’s cricket bosses that each player must take part in the anti-racism gesture. De Kock, 28, withdrew from the team and said he was “shocked” by the order.

However, he has since apologised and vowed to take the knee if it “helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better”.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Maharaj insisted the team has “bonded” over the furore.

"It has been a tough week, but the boys are mature and adult enough to adapt,” he said. “The spirits were high today, there is that buzz and drive back after a long two days. Our focus in back on the cricket now.

"This has made us bond and gel a lot stronger. You will see more energy [on Saturday] than in the last two games. It has brought us together."

Wicketkeeper-batsman De Kock could prove a vital asset in the Proteas’ quest to qualify from the Super 12s after a win and defeat in their opening two games.

Maharaj said of his teammate: “He is in a good space. It has been a tough week, but he is a mature character. We love having him in the team. No-one is a racist in our team. We respect everybody’s different cultural and religious beliefs.”

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