South African cricket authorities have held crisis talks to determine how to proceed after star player Quinton De Kock revealed he will defy team orders by refusing to take a knee prior to games in the current T20 World Cup.
In spite of reports to the contrary, the 28-year-old wicketkeeper remains part of the South Africa squad after disobeying a team directive which stated that each member of the team must take a knee prior to games at the tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
De Kock generated countless headlines in his home country and beyond after refusing to drop to a knee before Tuesday’s match with the West Indies, while also outlining beforehand that he would not be making any gesture such as raising a fist or standing to attention – suggestions offered by Cricket South Africa (CSA) as an alternative to the ‘taking a knee’ protest highlighting social inequality which has become popularized by the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
Temba Bavuma, South Africa’s first ever permanent black captain, admitted after learning of De Kock’s stance that he was surprised but noted that De Kock has “freedom of choice”, adding that “we can’t escape the consequences of the choices and decisions that we make”.
“I think if there are people out there who feel that certain things need a bit more clarity, then the fans, the media, should probably ask those individuals themselves,” he continued.
According to a report by The Guardian, Cricket South Africa have held multiple meetings to address the issue which they fear threatens to overshadow their participation in the competition in the hope of determining the correct course to address the issue.
But as things stand, De Kock – who is among South African cricket’s all-time top scorers in T20 internationals and a key player in the team – is available for selection for Saturday’s clash with Sri Lanka.
Following De Kock’s withdrawal from the West Indies match, his role was occupied by both Reeza Hendricks and Heinrich Klaasen as they claimed their first win of the tournament and successfully bounced back from defeat to Australia.
De Kock’s stance, though, seemed to prove a troublesome one for Bavuma when he was thrust into the media’s firing line this week – particularly given his role as being a black captain of a team coming from a country with an extremely negative history of race relations.
As a team we’re obviously surprised and taken aback by the news. Quinton is a big player for the team –not just with the bat, but the role he plays from a senior point of view,” he said.
“Not having that at my disposal as a captain was something I wasn’t looking forward to.”
“In saying that, Quinton is an adult. He’s a man in his own shoes. We respect his decision. We respect his convictions. I know that he’ll be standing behind whatever decision that he’s taken.”
While his captain has given him a pass, it remains to be seen if the CSA will follow suit – and they have until Saturday’s clash with Sri Lanka to draw their own line in the sand.