Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - The mystery of Quinton de Kock's missing knee takes a serious turn. Quinton de Kock decided to opt out of the T20 WC clash against West Indies after CSA issued a directive to take the knee ahead of matches.
Quinton de Kock decided to opt out of the T20 WC clash against West Indies after CSA issued a directive to take the knee ahead of matches.
Taking a knee will not end racism. It will not create equality, make people acknowledge their privilege, nor bring George Floyd back to life. It is gesture politics at its most performative, the least anyone could do to show their hope for a better world. Unless your joints are ailing, taking a knee cannot hurt you.
So why won't Quinton de Kock do it?
Does he think the world doesn't need change? Does he think kneeling won't solve anything? Does he have religious objections? Does he adhere to the conspiracy theory that taking a knee signifies support for Black Lives Matter (BLM), which the right-wing crazies out there have cast as a violent, Marxist mob rather than the global movement for anti-racism it undoubtedly is? Does he disapprove of his teammates of all races who have been taking a knee since the 3TC game in Centurion on July 18 last year, which he missed because of Covid-19?
We've asked De Kock, but we still don't know. Here's what he said on June 12 this year: “My reason? I'll keep it to myself. It's my own, personal opinion. It's everyone's decision; no-one's forced to do anything, not in life. That's the way I see things.” During the same online press conference, De Kock was happy to discuss why he saw fit to put a sticker on his bat to promote rhino conservation.
CSA's board have not seen things De Kock's way since December 18 last year, when a release quoted the chair of the then interim board, Zak Yacoob, as “[expressing] concern about the implications” of the South Africa players having given themselves, as they said in a release on November 25, three options to show their support for the fight for social justice – kneel, raise a fist, or stand to attention.
De Kock has since been a notable exception to all of the above: he has stood with his hands slung casually behind his back or propped on his hips while the various gestures are observed. Other white players who have neither knelt nor raised a fist have at least tried to look as if they are paying the moment due respect. Given that most other teams which include white players kneel en masse, South Africa's higgledy-piggledy approach jars – especially given the country's long and continuing problems with white supremacy.
On June 26, Lawson Naidoo, who chairs CSA's current board, told Cricbuzz: “Ideally, I'd like to see the Proteas take a strong stance as a unified team.” To that end, he would “try and persuade them that they need to adapt what they're doing, because visually it doesn't come across well. It sends out a message that there are divisions of approach. One's not seeking to be dictatorial, but to say, ‘You guys need to sit together and come to an agreement'. If one or two disagree, the way democracy works is that you follow the lead of the majority.”
The board followed through on that thinking on Monday, when they decided to issue a directive that all players should kneel before games in the T20 WC. The players were informed five hours before the start of Tuesday's game against West Indies in Dubai.
A release announcing the “unanimous decision” followed less than two hours later: “Concerns were raised that the different postures taken by team members in support of the BLM initiative created an unintended perception of disparity or lack of support for the initiative.
“After considering all relevant issues, including the position of the players, the board felt that it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a united and consistent stand against racism, especially given South Africa's history.
“Several other teams at the World Cup have adopted a consistent stance against the issue, and the board felt it is time for all South Africa players to do the same.”
You could quibble with the board waiting until the day of a match that South Africa, who lost to Australia on Sunday, probably had to win to stay in the running for the knockout rounds. You could also wonder why it took them so long to run out of patience with the recalcitrants in the team. Not to mention wonder why anyone would need time to decide whether to take a knee in the first place.
De Kock felt defiant enough on the issue to withdraw from Tuesday's match. With that he put the remainder of his international career in jeopardy. And for what? Again, we still don't know. Word from the dressing room earlier was that he had “made himself unavailable due to personal reasons”. A second CSA release on Tuesday said: “The board will await a further report from team management before deciding on the next steps. All players are expected to follow this directive for the remaining games of the World Cup.”
Heinrich Klaasen, who replaced De Kock behind the stumps, had also previously stood while his teammates had knelt. Klaasen took a knee on Tuesday.
“A commitment to overcoming racism is the glue that should unite, bind and strengthen us,” the first release quoted CSA board chair Lawson Naidoo as saying. “Race should not be manipulated to amplify our weaknesses. Diversity can and should find expression in many facets of our daily lives, but not when it comes to taking a stand against racism.”
Black and brown South Africans were subjugated under racist actions and legislation from the arrival of European colonisers in 1652 until apartheid was defeated at the ballot box in 1994. But racial inequality – which is experienced in stark social and economic disparities between whites and their black and brown counterparts – remains rife.
Cricket itself is reckoning with the sins of its recent past at the hearings of the Social Justice and Nation-Building project, which is investigating claims of racist treatment suffered by black and brown people in the game in the past 30 years.
De Kock is not the first player to withhold his services for “personal reasons”. Sandy Koufax refused to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins in the 1965 World Series opener because the game coincided with Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Michael Jones, a star loose forward for rugby's All Blacks in the 1980s and 90s, missed matches played on Sundays because of the dictates of his brand of the Christian faith. His decision cost him what would otherwise have been a certain place in New Zealand's 1995 World Cup squad.
The difference between De Kock and players like Koufax and Jones is that they did what they did as part of and in support of their communities, and as a result, they were celebrated by those communities. De Kock has set himself apart from the majority of the community he purports to represent by playing for the national team. More than 80% of South Africans are black. De Kock is indicating, effectively, that he does not play for them. Who beyond overt and covert racists could celebrate that?
Players make much of saying no individual is bigger than the team, and that they would do anything in the cause of the comrades with whom they share dressing rooms and arenas. De Kock has exhibited the antithesis of that philosophy. Asked to choose his team and, in a sense beyond mere cricket, his country, he has chosen himself instead.
In the old South Africa, that choice might have landed him in jail. In the new, he has the right to do so. But rights come with responsibilities, and if they are not met there will be consequences. De Kock, and no-one and nothing else, has put himself on that path.