South African superstar Quinton de Kock has made a stunning backflip on his decision to walk out on cricket’s T20 World Cup, and has indicated he will now take the knee in support of Black Lives Matter.
De Kock issued an extraordinary apology to his teammates and South African fans for letting his country down over his decision to pull out of a World Cup match against the West Indies following a Cricket South Africa directive* that all players must take a knee before matches.
The 28-year-old declared he was not a racist and revealed he comes from a mixed-race family.
In a lengthy statement, de Kock attempted to explain his position and apologised.
“I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home,” he said.
“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 Indies team themselves.
“I am deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused.”
De Kock’s backflip came 48 hours after he chose to sit out the match on October 26 rather than take the knee with his teammates in a show of solidarity* for the global Black Lives Matter movement.
De Kock, South Africa’s wicketkeeper and former captain, said he had been called many things in his career, but nothing had hurt him more than being labelled a racist.
“For those who don’t know, I come from a mixed-race family,” he said.
“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.”
De Kock pointed the finger at the Cricket South Africa board for leaving it until a couple of hours before their match against the West Indies to drop the bombshell* directive that all members of the team would be required to take the knee.
But he said he now understood the point the board was trying to get across.
“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,” de Koch said.
“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 that we had a 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.”
WHAT DOES TAKING THE KNEE MEAN?
Taking the knee started as a protest against the unfair treatment of Black Americans, but has now become a global symbol of the fight against racism.
It initially gained worldwide attention in American football, when San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench instead of standing during the national anthem at the start of a game in 2016.
By the fourth game, the gesture, which he said was intended to raise awareness of police brutality* towards African-Americans, had become a national talking point.
That was when Kaepernick, seeking a dignified* way to protest without offending military personnel, tried something else – he knelt.
Kaepernick said at the time: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses* black people and people of colour.”
The practice of taking the knee became widespread and a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 after black man George Floyd died when a police officer knelt on his neck in the US.
It is now used by people across the globe, including Australia’s cricketers, AFL players and NRL players.
- directive: order, official instruction
- solidarity: unity, agreement
- bombshell: unexpected and surprising
- gesture: something you say or do to express your attitude or intentions
- brutality: violent and cruel behaviour
- dignified: showing respect
- oppresses: treats cruelly, does not provide the same opportunities, freedoms and benefits that others enjoy
- What match did Quinton de Kock withdraw from after being directed to take a knee?
- Which organisation made this directive?
- What does taking a knee represent?
- Which US footballer started the practice of taking the knee?
- What event in 2020 caused it to become a widespread symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Show your understanding
Summarise the reason Quinton de Kock gave for pulling out of the T20 World Cup match against the West Indies and why it is that he has now changed his mind about taking the knee.
In your opinion, did he owe his teammates and fans an apology? Why or why not?
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Ethical Understanding
Think of a time when you have made a choice that others didn’t agree with. Explain what happened and how you resolved the issue. If you weren’t able to resolve the issue, what stood in the way and how could you (or others) do things differently in a future situation?
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Ethical Understanding; Personal and Social Capability
Interview a teammate
Imagine you had the opportunity to talk to one of the other players in the South African cricket team after Quinton de Kock withdrew from the match against the West Indies.
What would you ask them? Come up with five different questions. Challenge yourself to use different question stems (question opener words) to write your questions, and don’t forget to end with a question mark.