'I am not a racist': Quinton de Kock apologises for refusing to take a knee

The South African cricketer has broken his silence about sitting out his side's second World Cup match, saying he is "deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger" he has caused.

Quinton de Kock

Quinton De Kock has apologised for pulling out of a T20 World Cup match when ordered to take a knee. Source: AAP

Quinton de Kock has apologised to his South Africa teammates and his country after withdrawing from their Twenty20 World Cup game against the West Indies because of the national cricket authority's direction to take a knee.

De Kock issued a statement on Thursday, two days after rebuffing the directive from Cricket South Africa (CSA) which stated all players must take part in the anti-racism gesture for the rest of the tournament.

"I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home," he said.

"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 to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so."

De Kock explained that matters relating to race are personal and close to his heart, but he felt his"rights" were taken away by CSA's mandatory order and were only disclosed to him on the morning of the game.

"I am deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused," he added.

"For those who don't know, I come from a mixed-race family. 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."

"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."

De Kock added: "If I was racist, I could easily have taken the knee and lied, which is wrong and doesn't build a better society. 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 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," he said.

"I am not a racist. In my heart of hearts, I know that. And I think those who know me know that."

Since the controversial decision by de Kock, reports emerged around the uncertainty shrouding his cricket future with the Proteas, with a club from Australia's BBL offering to save his career. 

Captain Temba Bavuma says Quinton de Kock is "still one of the boys" after refusing to take the knee with his teammates.
Source: Getty Images/ICC

The wicketkeeper and star batsman praised the leadership of Temba Bavuma, South Africa's first permanent black captain, and concluded his statement by saying he would like to be back in the team if they would accept him.

"I just want to thank my teammates for their support, especially my captain, Temba. People might not recognise, but he is a flipping amazing leader," he said. 

When asked about de Kock's decision against the anti-racism gesture, Bavuma supported his teammate, saying he is "still one of the boys". 

"Quinton is an adult. He’s a man in his own shoes. We respect his decision. We respect his convictions," the captain said in the press conference after South Africa beat the West Indies. 

"If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again," de Kock concluded.

Additional reporting by Rayane Tamer

Published 28 October 2021 at 7:36pm, updated 28 October 2021 at 7:52pm
Source: AAP - SBS