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T20 World Cup 2021

CSA mandate players to take the knee as de Kock opts out of selection for ‘personal reasons’

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ahead of their T20 World Cup clash against West Indies, Cricket South Africa issued a directive requiring their players take the knee as part of a “united stance against racism”, with Quinton de Kock later making himself unavailable for the clash due to “personal reasons”.

On the morning of the Proteas’ second match of the tournament, CSA issued a statement stating that their board had “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”.

“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,” the statement continued. “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. ‘Taking the knee’ is the global gesture against racism adopted by sportspeople across sporting codes because they recognise the power sport has to bring people together.”

Before their opening game against Australia, South Africa’s players had undertaken a variety of anti-racism gestures, with some opting not to take part in the pre-match display. De Kock, who CSA stated had “made himself unavailable due to personal reasons”, has spoken in the past about his reluctance to take the knee, saying that he didn’t want to disclose his reasons for deciding against it.

“I’ll keep my reasons to myself and it is my own personal opinion,” de Kock said in June. “Like Lungi [Ngidi] said, it is everyone’s decision and no one is forced to do something and that’s the way I see things.”

During West Indies’ innings, CSA released a statement which confirmed that de Kock had made the decision to not take the knee.

Speaking before the start of the South Africa-West Indies clash, former West Indies captain Daren Sammy, who has spoken in the past about the racist abuse he has received while playing cricket, couldn’t understand why taking the knee was seen as a controversial stance.

“Sometimes I don’t understand: why is it so difficult to support this movement, if you understand what it stands for?” he said.

Former Zimbabwe player Pommie Mbangwa also spoke out. “”Lack of support for the initiative essentially means lack of support for people of colour within the team, in SA and in the world as a whole. Excuse me if I sound political, but I can’t shed my skin,” he said. “I’ll say this with regard to Quinton de Kock. Freedom of choice is fair enough. I don’t want to speculate on what the personal reasons exactly are because I haven’t got those. But I hope the discussions can actually be had.”

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