Australia

Cricket South Africa ‘surprised’ by de Kock decision, but no punishment likely

Cricket South Africa chairman Lawson Naidoo says Quinton de Kock is unlikely to face punishment for his refusal to take a knee before matches.

De Kock made himself unavailable for South Africa’s second T20 World Cup game against the West Indies after the CSA board mandated the anti-racism gesture for its players and management at the tournament.

Before South Africa’s first match against Australia some players took a knee, while others stood with a raised fist or with their arms simply behind their back.

Speaking on The Ticket, Naidoo said the board had given the playing group time to agree on a unified gesture, but when no consensus had been reached felt obliged to step in.

“The team is committed to an anti-racist agenda and to combating racism. The problem comes about as a result of how that is depicted, in the terms of the different gestures that have been adopted,” Naidoo said.

“[The lack of unity] sends a lukewarm, watered-down impression of that commitment and it leads to a questioning of that commitment.

“And we thought it was important — going off the basis of what the players tell us, that there have been these discussions — if such a commitment exists, the simplest thing to do to demonstrate that powerfully is to do what the rest of the world is doing and take a knee before the game.

“That’s the simple issue. It’s about a principled, moral issue of saying, ‘we stand against racism’.”

South Africa’s players were not able to reach a consensus on which gesture to adopt.(Getty Images: Gareth Copley-ICC)

Naidoo said he was caught by surprise when de Kock made clear he would not comply with the directive, as he was not expecting any blow-back from the playing group.

But he reiterated he hoped there would be no additional punishment required for de Kock.

“No, we certainly hope not,” he said.

“This is not about threatening players or imposing sanctions or penalties against them. This was a well-considered decision of the board — a unanimous decision of the board, I might add — that this is the right thing to do.

“We expected the decision would be respected, indeed as it was by all of the other players in the team and the full management complement that is with the team in the UAE.

“After Quinton de Kock had made himself unavailable, the rest of the squad duly took the knee ahead of the West Indies game, and that’s what we expected.”

A man  takes the knee in focus on the background, in the foreground a man out of focus stands
De Kock stands while captain Temba Bavuma takes a knee.(Getty Images: Gareth Copley-ICC)

South Africa’s history makes gesture important, Naidoo says

Naidoo said that South Africa’s history made a strong anti-racism stance even more important, but stressed the work the squad had done in recent years to combat racism in the country, and said no player could be considered a racist.

Two batsmen walk out onto the field to open a cricket innings with fans behind them
Cricket South Africa chairman Lawson Naidoo says Quinton de Kock is not racist.(Getty Images: Gareth Copley-ICC)

“Let me start by saying I don’t believe any member of the South African squad or management team is racist in any way,” he said.

“I think the team has worked extremely hard in recent years in particular to confront the issues that face us in South Africa, which are the same issues that confront people globally. So don’t think there’s any hint of racism behind any of the concerns that have been raised.

“Other teams at the World Cup including Australia, England, New Zealand, India and the West Indies, who uniformly take the knee and make very little quibble about it, explain it very simply as their contribution to raising awareness to the fight against racism globally.

“And we felt given South Africa’s particular history of Apartheid and institutionalised racial discrimination, it was important that a team that represents South Africa sends out an equally strong signal.

“So in the absence of the team coming to that conclusion on their own, we felt it was incumbent upon the board to take the lead on this matter

De Kock is yet to explain his decision, though South Africa’s T20 captain Temba Bavuma says the “respects his decision”.


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