South African Cricket Player Refuses Order To Take A Knee For Black Lives Matter | Walks Back Decision After Missed T20 World Cup Match

Image Credit: ICC Twitter

The show of solidarity in sports for racial justice is international and still raging worldwide. The fight has now hit the world of cricket, displaying how polarizing the subject still is globally.

Recently, a South African cricket player was ordered to show his support for the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling before an international match in the United Arab Emirates.

The team has more white athletes than those of color.

Refusing To Kneel

Hours before the South Africa Proteas’ T20 World Cup match against the West Indies in Dubai on Oct. 26, Cricket South Africa mandated that its players kneel to show solidarity with the fight for racial justice.

However, Cricket South Africa player Quinton de Kock refused to kneel before the Proteas’ match. He subsequently sat out the game against West Indies. He was the only player to make that decision.

Now De Kock is apologizing for the decision.

De Kock Speaks

On Thursday morning, de Kock released a statement to provide clarity around his decision.

“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 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 our way to the game.

Walking It Back

De Kock apologized for his silence on racial justice issues and revealed he is from a mixed family.

“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.

“For those who don’t know, I come from a mixed-race family. My half-sisters are Coloured, and my stepmom 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.

For De Kock, the decision not to kneel came down to freedom of choice, which he felt his team took away with the mandate to kneel.

“I felt like my rights were taken away when I was told what we had to do in the way that we were told.

“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.”

Global Unrest

In the Proteas’ World Cup opening match against Australia, Anrich Nortje, Heinrich Klaasen, and Quinton De Kock stood with hands behind their backs while their teammates knelt.

The polarizing stance led to an “unintended perception of disparity or lack of support for the initiative,” the Cricket South Africa board wrote this week, and those officials issued the mandate to kneel so the team would show a consistent image about the Black Lives Matter gesture. De Kock was benched for his refusal to obey the mandate before the West Indies game. Now walking that stance back means he is eligible for the remainder of the tournament.

The only question is did De Kock decide to comply only to stay eligible to play or has he truly had a change of heart?

The team resumes playing on Saturday against Sri Lanka.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.