Proteas’s campaign for the T20 World Cup could be back after beating the West Indies by eight wickets with 10 balls in reserve, but there are important discussions to come.
Former South African captain Quinton de Kock refused to heed a directive from Cricket South Africa (CSA) to kneel in solidarity against racism ahead of Tuesday’s game, and instead withdrew from the team.
CSA issued the decree to the team hours before the start of the Group 1 clash of the T20 World Cup in Dubai. Just before the start of the match, CSA issued a statement confirming the position. De Kock, in the meantime, decided to step down rather than kneel under duress.
His actions mobilized the social media lynching mobs within minutes, although not all the facts were clear at the time. It was left to captain Temba Bavuma to answer sensitive pre-match questions. Bavuma handled the difficult situation with dexterity, claiming that De Kock had stepped down for “personal reasons”, which was correct but vague.
But Bavuma also said that De Kock, as a teammate, still has the support of his peers.
“Quinton is always one of the players, one of the boys, whatever support he needs, whatever shoulder he needs from his teammates, will be there for him,” Bavuma said during a press briefing after the match. “If it is necessary to have further conversations, these will certainly happen.”
The CSA confirmed in a statement that De Kock had withdrawn to oppose the directive to kneel before the start of the match. It has become a universally adopted, but not necessarily universally adopted, symbol of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
After the game, in which the West Indies posted 143 for eight and the Proteas reached 144 for two in the 19th to win, Bavuma admitted that the team were shaken by De Kock’s position.
âAs a team, we are surprised and taken aback by the news. Quinton is a great player for the team, not just with the stick, but from a senior perspective, so not having that available to me, as captain, is obviously something I wasn’t expecting with impatience, âBavuma said after the game.
âSaying that, Quinton is an adult. He is a man in his place. We respect his decision, we respect his beliefs and I know he will support the decision he made.
Bavuma confirmed that the CSA’s directive to drop to one knee reached the players around 9 a.m. in Dubai, five hours before the start of the match.
“Before getting on the bus to Dubai, this message was passed on to the players,” Bavuma said. âDuring the two-hour trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, Quinton made his decision. I found out when I got to the locker room.
âWe didn’t have a lot of time to discuss this issue in depth. Unfortunately, it was for us to digest what we were told and find a way to move forward.
âIt was probably one of the toughest days I’ve had to face as captain, as team leader, for obvious reasons with the off-court issues. We had to do the job.
âThere was still a game of cricket for our country. It was important that as everything went, we found a way to get into the right mental space and bring it home to our country. ”
In its first statement, CSA said: “The CSA board of directors unanimously agreed on Monday evening to issue a directive requiring all Proteas players to take a cohesive and united stance against racism by” taking the knee. “before the start of their remaining World Cup matches.
âConcerns were expressed 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.
âAfter considering all relevant issues, including the position of the players, the board felt it was imperative that the team be seen to take a united and cohesive stance against racism, especially given the history of South Africa.
“Several other teams at the World Cup took a consistent stance against the problem, and the board felt it was time for all players in South Africa to do the same.”
The CSA could pay De Kock’s salary, but whether their competence extends to forcing him or other actors to make a gesture in favor of a social or political cause, it is unlikely that this case be taken to court.
That De Kock had made a conscious decision not to take the knee in previous matches was one thing, which he refused to be forced to do, is another.
While vilified in the court of public opinion, De Kock could have a case in a labor court. The CSA directive is not written into any constitution.
The CSA’s lack of leadership
De Kock has yet to comment on the matter and it is understood that he may make a statement in the coming days. Until then, Bavuma and coach Mark Boucher have to deal with a difficult situation ahead of their next game against Sri Lanka. This is a situation that has been escalating for many months without decisive leadership from the CSA.
The fact that the governing body chose to issue an executive order like this on the eve of a crucial World Cup game underlines just how chaotic the ASC leadership has been over the past two years. This question should have been resolved months ago.
“We have a few days until the next game and I think those days will be tough for the squad,” Bavuma said.
âGuys who want to know more about his decision will use this time to find out more. Quinton is an adult. He made his decision. You have to respect it whether you agree or not.
âAs much as you have the choice to decide what you want to do, you cannot escape the consequences of the choices and decisions we make. If there are people who think that some people need more clarity, then the fans, the media, you better ask them directly.
âIt gets blurry when you ask me about other guys. If you really want to get the clarity you seem to want, you should probably ask these people themselves.
Bavuma eloquently summed up the complexity of forcing players from diverse backgrounds to take action for a cause they don’t fully understand or fully support.
âI don’t think it’s as easy as just putting on one knee,â Bavuma said. âWe have to understand that we live in a country like South Africa which has its own past, which is diverse in its views, diverse in the way people see things, and their backgrounds and the decisions we make. take, the things that we support, are based on our own beliefs.
âAs much as we are a team, we wear the same jersey, we play for the same badge, other than that we still live our own lives and these lives are different by the very nature that we live in South Africa.
âI’ve come to appreciate this a lot more lately, try to broaden your own perspective as an individual and don’t expect people to see it the way you see it. My beliefs, the way I see things, are shaped by my own past, just like that of the other person.
âIf there is a disagreement in terms of beliefs, in terms of points of view, that’s why we have these difficult conversations. Through these conversations, we will be able to gain the comfort of accepting the other person’s decision. I can’t force anyone to see things the way I do, and neither can they force me to do it.
CSA double down
The use of the word “force” was revealing. Bavuma made it clear that he couldn’t force someone to see things the way they did. He didn’t go so far as to say that the CSA decree requiring players to kneel was wrong, but his words could be interpreted that way.
Either way, a provocative CSA doubled down later today.
“All players were required, in accordance with a directive from the CSA board of directors on Monday evening, to ‘take the knee’ in a united and cohesive position against racism,” a second statement read.
âIt is also the global gesture against racism that has been adopted by athletes through sports codes because they recognize the power of sport to bring people together.
âAfter considering all the relevant issues, including the freedom of choice of players, the board made it clear that it was imperative that the team be seen to take a stand against racism, especially given the history of SA.
âThe board was of the opinion that while diversity can and should be expressed in many facets of daily life, this does not apply when it comes to taking a stand against racism.
âThe board will wait for a further report from the team leadership before deciding on the next steps. All players must follow this guideline for the remaining World Cup matches. “
Bavuma was unsure whether De Kock was still eligible for the squad under the circumstances, nor was it clear whether a replacement could be called up, whether De Kock was sacked by the ASC or withdraws from the tournament.
âI don’t know how far it will evolve. The decision he made is only taken today, so I can only talk about what happened today, âBavuma said.
âIt wouldn’t be my decision to replace Quinton or have a replacement. It will most likely be the coach and the coaches. DM