South African Cricket Player Quinton de Kock Changes His Mind and Will Take a Knee

South African Cricket Player Quinton de Kock apologized Thursday to teammates and supporters for refusing to play in a T20 World Cup game, but said he felt his rights were “taken away” when players were told they must take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Compelling someone to take a knee also ”takes away the meaning,” he said.

But de Kock said he was now “more than happy” to take a knee ahead of future games “if me taking a knee helps to educate others, and make the lives of others better.”

The wicketkeeper-batsman, a former captain and one of South Africa’s star players decided to sit the game out against the West Indies after a directive from the country’s cricket board that morning ordered all its players to take a knee before games. De Kock withdrew from the game while the other South African players took a knee before the start, including some who hadn’t previously performed the gesture.

“I did not, in any way, mean to disrespect anyone by not playing against West Indies, especially the West Indian team themselves,” de Kock said. “Maybe some people don’t understand that we were just hit with this on Tuesday morning, on the way to a game.

“I am deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused.”

De Kock’s refusal to play because of the Black Lives Matter gesture sparked fierce reaction at home in South Africa, where issues of race and racism are constantly in the headlines because of the country’s history of forced segregation under the apartheid regime, which ended in 1994.

South Africa’s multiracial cricket team had previously taken a disparate approach to taking a knee: Some kneeled with their fists raised, some stood with their fists raised, while some white players, including de Kock, have previously stood with their hands by their side or behind their backs for the moment.

South Africa’s next World Cup game is against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

– Ella Breedlove