“Taking the knee” takes a turn for Proteas

This week SA’s senior men’s cricket team made headlines, not for their on-field abilities, but because they had to be forced by the board of governing body Cricket South Africa (CSA) to “take a knee” against racism.

The gesture, first used by American athlete Colin Kaepernick as a silent protest against the murder by police of a black man, George Floyd, has become a universal anti-racism symbol. Some Protea players have knelt before international games, while others have remained standing. The CSA board issued a statement shortly before the team’s T20 World Cup tie against the West Indies on Tuesday saying it was compulsory for players to take the knee. A bombshell followed: star batsman Quinton de Kock withdrew from the match. He was widely excoriated by commentators and fans, though some celebrated his stance. 👀

Today, De Kock issued a thoughtful statement in which explained that his unhappiness lay not with the gesture, but with being blindsided by the directive: “When you are told what to do, with no discussion, I felt like it takes away the meaning. If I was racist, I could easily have taken the knee and lied, which is wrong and doesn’t build a better society.”  

We agree, but De Kock didn’t entirely cover himself in glory. Mentioning his family members of colour in the statement played into the “some of my best friends are black” trope. Many still didn’t understand why he didn’t show his support AND voice his opposition to the directive. 

But, like all of us (hopefully), De Kock is on a journey. 🤷🏽‍♀️

We hope this will spark more discussion – especially given how much has emerged in the past year about the racist treatment of black cricket players, allegedly by people including current men’s head coach Mark Boucher. 

We look forward to seeing De Kock front and centre with other senior teammates pushing for change. 💪🏽

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 28 October 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.