South African cricket star De Kock refuses to take knee and pulls out of World Cup match vs West Indies in defiance of authorities

South African star Quinton de Kock defied a request from his country’s cricket authorities and pulled out of his team’s T20 World Cup match with the West Indies on Tuesday after refusing to take a knee.

The incident came after South African cricket authorities announced that each of their players should take a knee pre-game in a demonstration designed to be against systemic racism, but which has increasingly been seen by many as a watered-down gesture which is now past its sell-by date.

De Kock, 28, withdrew from competing in Tuesday's game with the West Indies, which South Africa ended up winning by eight wickets. 

"This is also the global gesture against racism that has been adopted by sportspeople across sporting codes because they recognize the power of sport to bring people together," read a statement from Cricket South Africa (CSA).

"After considering all relevant issues, including the freedom of choice of players, the Board had made it clear it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a stand against racism, especially given SA's history.

"The Board's view was that while diversity can and should find expression in many facets of daily lives, this did not apply when it came to taking a stand against racism."

The 'history' being referred to in the statement is the apartheid, minority-white rule under which South Africa was governed from 1948 until it was removed in 1994, thanks in no small part to the influence of Nelson Mandela.

The CSA added that they are awaiting a further review of the incident before deciding if disciplinary measures will be taken.

De Kock has previously faced this issue after declining to drop to a knee ahead of a previous match, also against the West Indies earlier this year.

"My reason? I'll keep it to myself," he said at the time.

"It's my own, personal opinion. It's everyone's decision; no one's forced to do anything, not in life. That's the way I see things."

Prior to South Africa's game with Australia last weekend, several of the squad members took a knee while others remained standing but opted to raise a fist in solidarity with the movement. 

The issue of taking a knee in professional sports dates back to a protest initiated by Colin Kaepernick in the NFL several years ago which he said was an objection to police violence in the United States - but some saw it as a disrespectful gesture to the United States' flag and its military, despite Kaepernick's insistence to the opposite.

Since then it has become synonymous with the 'Black Lives Matter' movement and has become commonplace in numerous sports, such as the English Premier League. 

Temba Bavuma, a black teammate of De Kock's in the South Africa team, says that he and his teammates were "surprised and taken aback" by the move but added that they respected his decision.

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"As a team we’re obviously surprised and taken aback. Quinton is a big player for the team, not just with the bat but the role he plays from a senior point of view," he said.

"In saying that, Quinton is an adult. He’s a man in his own shoes. We respect his decision, his convictions. I know that he’ll be standing behind whatever decision that he’s taken."

And per the CSA's statements, it appears likely that De Kock's stance will cost him his further participation in the tournament.

"All players are expected to follow this directive for the remaining games of the World Cup," they said.

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