Cricket legend rips into 'dumb' Quinton de Kock kneeling defence

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Quinton de Kock's explanation for not taking a knee did not impress cricket great Michael Holding.
South African cricketer Quinton de Kock's explanation for refusing to take a knee prior to a recent T20 World Cup game left West Indian cricket legend Michael Holding 'confused'. Pictures: Getty Images

West Indian cricket legend Michael Holding says he has been left feeling confused by South African batsman Quinton de Kock's defence for not taking a knee in a gesture to acknowledge racism.

The South African star had earlier refused to play in a T20 game after the nation's cricket authorities requested all players participate in the gesture.

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He argued that the decision meant his 'rights' had been 'taken away' - but later apologised and agreed to take part in the gesture.

Cricket South Africa issued the new order just a few hours before the game in Dubai having previously said they could choose their own way to show their support for the anti-racism movement.

"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. If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so," he said.

However Holding was nevertheless unimpressed with de Kock's explanation for the saga.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, the West Indian great said de Kock's apology had been 'confusing', but added he was inclined to give the South African the benefit of the doubt.

Holding said he would be stunned if de Kock held genuinely damaging views - but said his actions had not been a good look.

 “Has he now come to the realisation that what people are trying to do is real and worthwhile supporting or did he not know what the gesture was or what people were trying to do? What was it?” he said.

“There’s a worldwide movement going on. The entire world has accepted a specific gesture, a specific action of supporting that movement. You are going to take it upon yourself to then think I can support it another way?"

Michael Holding slams Quinton de Kock over knee saga

Holding said de Kock's reluctance to take part in a simple gesture was what opened doubts about whether he was genuine in his stance against racism.

If de Kock was genuinely against discrimination based on skin colour, then taking a knee for a few moments ought not to have sparked such an internal crisis, Holding reasoned.

“For me, it is a very simple matter. If there is an action supporting a particular movement, and you believe in that movement you take the action," Holding said. 

"If you do not believe in that movement you do not take the action.

“It’s a wait and see situation. I am happy to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he just made a mistake, and he has seen how dumb it was, and he’s changing his outlook."

De Kock's refusal to play over the Black Lives Matter gesture sparked fierce reaction 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 a small group, including de Kock, have stood with hands by their side or behind their backs.

Those players' actions in not kneeling provoked accusations that they did not support the anti-racism movement.

South African cricketer Quinton de Kock will participate in future anti-racism gestures along with the rest of the nation's cricket team. (Photo by RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
South African cricketer Quinton de Kock will participate in future anti-racism gestures along with the rest of the nation's cricket team. (Photo by RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)

De Kock denied that in his statement, explaining he came from a mixed-race family himself. He said his half-sisters are Coloured, a term in South Africa for people with a mixed-race heritage, and his step mother is Black.

"For me, Black lives have mattered since I was born. Not just because there was an international movement," de Kock said. "I didn't understand why I had to prove it with a gesture, when I live and learn and love people from all walks of life every day. 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.

"I've been called a lot of things as a cricketer ... Stupid. Selfish. Immature. 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."

De Kock said he and teammates had "emotional" conversations with members of the Cricket South Africa board on Wednesday and "I think we all have a better understanding of their intentions as well."

He said he was keen to continue playing for South Africa if captain Temba Bavuma and the team "will have me."

With AAP

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