South Africa’s top wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock – who refused to take the knee against instructions to do so – has apologised to “teammates and the fans back home”.
De Kock did not play in the T20 World Cup game in Dubai against the West Indies after he refused to take the knee as instructed by Cricket South Africa.
The furore around De Kock’s decision has reverberated around the globe and created massive divisions between sports lovers over race and politics.
Even though the Proteas beat the West Indies by eight wickets with 10 balls to spare on Tuesday the importance of De Kock to the team has not been easy to overlook.
On Wednesday De Kock made the first move to mend fences saying in his lengthy statement: “I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home.
“I never ever wanted to make this a Quinton issue.
“I understand the importance of standing against racism, and I also understand the responsibility of us as players to set an example.
“If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so.
“I did not, in any way, mean to disrespect anyone by not playing against the West Indies, especially the West Indian team themselves.
“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. I was quiet on this very important issue until now.
“But I feel I have to explain myself a little bit.
“For those who don’t know, I come from a mixed-race family. My half-sisters are Coloured and my stepmom is Black. For me, Black lives have mattered since I was born.”
The wicketkeeper/batsman held a meeting with CSA to clear the air on Wednesday.
“Since our chat with the board last night, which was very emotional, I think we all have a better understanding of their intentions as well,” said De Kock.
“I wish this had happened sooner, because what happened on match day could have been avoided.
“I know I have an example to set. We were previously told we had the choice to do what we felt we wanted to do.
“I chose to keep my thoughts to myself, and thought of the pride of playing for my family and my country.
“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.”
De Kock said if he was racist, I could easily have taken the knee and lied, which is wrong and doesn’t build a better society.
“Those who have grown up with me and played with me, know what type of person I am.
“I’ve been called a lot of things as a cricketer. Doff. 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.
“I am not a racist. In my heart of hearts, I know that. And I think those who know me know that.
“I know I’m not great with words, but I’ve tried my best to explain how truly sorry I am for making like this is about me.”
De Kock also acknowledged the role his Captain Temba Bavuma played in resolving the matter.
“People might not recognise, but he is a flipping amazing leader. If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again.”