Dubai: South African skipper Temba Bavuma has said he was “surprised and taken aback” by the decision of team-mate Quinton de Kock to opt out of the game against the West Indies in the ICC T20 World Cup on Tuesday due to “personal reasons”, adding that he will still get “whatever support he wants from the team”.
Minutes before the toss in the ‘Super 12’ game, which the Proteas won by eight wickets on Tuesday evening, de Kock made himself unavailable for selection. The news came after Cricket South Africa (CSA) released a statement saying that all players should take the knee before their remaining T20 World Cup matches in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
De Kock was one of a number of South Africa players who had not been taking the knee ahead of recent internationals, including the team’s tournament-opener against Australia, with some players kneeling, some raising a fist and some standing.
The inconsistencies with the way players have been acknowledging a stance against racism was one of the reasons CSA issued the clear directive to its team.
Indian batsman Dinesh Karthik, meanwhile, added fuel to the fire by revealing on Twitter that the Proteas batsman is not playing because of his stand on Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Although de Kock himself has not elaborated on missing the game, statements from CSA and Bavuma make it clear the decision had to do with CSA’s directive for all players to take the knee at the start of the game.
“We as a team were surprised and taken aback by the news. Quinton is a big player for the team, not only with the bat but also the role he plays from an experience point of view. Not having that at my disposal as a captain was obviously not something I was looking forward to,” said Bavuma after the win against the West Indies.
“In saying that, Quinton is an adult. He’s a man in his own shoes. We respect his decision, we respect his convictions.”
On de Kock’s future playing for South Africa, Bavuma said, “It wouldn’t be my decision whether to replace Quinton or get a substitute. As far as we stand, Quinton is still one of the players, one of the boys. So whatever support that he needs, whatever shoulder that he requires from his teammates will be there for him. And if there’s a need for further conversations to be had, those will definitely happen among the guys,” he said.
Bavuma said that the instructions from the board to take the knee, “in a united and consistent stance”, was taken on the morning of the game. The message was passed on to the players before they got on to the bus to travel to Dubai.
“The trip was about an hour and half to two hours. In that trip I guess that’s where Quinton made his decision. I found out when we got to the changing room. (The timing) was probably not ideal. The good thing is we were still able to find a way to get on the field and represent our country the way we did.
“Quinton is still one of the players, one of the boys. So whatever support that he needs, whatever shoulder that he requires from his teammates will be there for him. And if there’s a need for further conversations to be had, those will definitely happen among the guys. The timing meant the team had not had the time to discuss the matter with de Kock and clear the air,” Bavuma explained.