By Bongani Dlamini
South African wicket keeper Quinton de Kock has broken the silence over his decision to withdraw from the match in Tuesday’s win against West Indies at the T20 World Cup.
The South African star has come under fire after he refused to take a knee in the fight against racism after a directive was issued by Cricket South Africa (CSA) for the rest of the team to take a knee for the remainder of the tournament.
The 28-year old issued a statement on Thursday, a day after CSA had promised it. And he started by apologizing to his teammates.
“I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home.
“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.
De Kock, also used this opportunity to expand on his family’s background and the importance exercising one’s right but also understanding the dynamics of a team environment.
“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.
“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.
“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. 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.
In what could be seen as taking a swipe at the CSA Board for taking a directive just moments before the second games against West Indies, De Kock did not miss the opportunity of showing his displeasure at the timing of this decision.
“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 teammates, and I love nothing more than playing cricket for South Africa.
“I think it would have 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 drama when we go to World Cups. That isn’t fair.
The Proteas will be back in action on Saturday when they take on Sri Lanka at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.