I am not a racist, Quinton de Kock says fine with taking knee, available to play for South Africa

Sharjah, October 28

South African star Quinton de Kock on Thursday made himself available for his team’s remaining matches of the T20 World Cup, saying he is fine taking a knee if it “educates others” and that he was deeply hurt at being called a racist for refusing to make the gesture earlier.

The wicketkeeper-batter pulled out of South Africa’s Group 1 Super 12 stage match against the West Indies in Dubai on Tuesday, his decision coming after the Cricket South Africa ordered players to take the knee before every game. The stunning move had led to widespread speculation about his playing future.

“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,” he said in a statement posted by CSA.

“There always seems to be a drama when we go to World Cups. That isn’t fair. I just want to thank my teammates for their support, especially my captain, Temba (Bavuma).

“People might not recognise, but he is a flipping amazing leader. If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again,” he added.

Bavuma, the first black to lead the side, had offered support to de Kock after the win over West Indies and stated that “it wasn’t ideal” to get a directive on taking the knee hours before the start of the match.

In his long statement, de Kock asserted that Black lives mattered to him due to his family background and not because of an international campaign.

“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 asserted.

De Kock explained that he did not take a knee before Tuesday’s match because of the manner in which the diktat was issued to the players.

“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,” he said.

“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,” he said.

The 28-year-old said he felt his freedom was encroached upon by CSA but his perspective had now changed after having spoken to the Board officials elaborately.

“…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,” he said.

“…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.”

De Kock said he had been deeply hurt by the backlash.

“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.”       

South Africa next play Sri Lanka here on Saturday. De Kock is expected to be selected for the game.

“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,” de Kock pleaded. PTI

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