ABC news presenter Tony Armstrong has blasted South African cricketer Quinton de Kock after he refused to take a knee in respect for the Black Lives Matter movement.
All players and staff had been directed to take a knee before the T20 World Cup match between South Africa and the West Indies on Tuesday night.
But wicketkeeper de Kock refused and instead pulled out of the match altogether for ‘personal reasons’.
Discussing the controversial moment on ABC Breakfast, Armstrong took aim at the cricketer and labelled his actions ‘racist’.
‘We’ve seen sporting teams right around the world start to get behind this movement,’ he said on Wednesday morning.
‘So for him to not do that, all that I think — and this is my own personal opinion — the question has been bubbling in my mind is how racist do you have to be, to not just take a knee and do that in conjunction with your teammates to show support, to even pretend to show support?
‘You’ve got to be pretty strong on your conviction not to.’
His co-host Michael Rowland joined in on the discussion adding: ‘At the very best it is confounding, confusing and puzzling.’
Armstrong noted that South Africa along with many other nations had a ‘chequered’ past when it came to issues of race and said he felt for the South African captain who had to explain his teammate’s position.
South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, one of the leading cricketers in the world, refused to take a knee in the lead up to a match against West Indies in the T20 World Cup
ABC presenter Tony Armstrong said de Kock’s decision not to take a knee was ‘racist’
At the toss, South African captain Temba Bavuma said de Kock had withdrawn for ‘personal reasons’, but, after his side defeated the West Indies, Bavuma said he had been ‘surprised and taken aback’ by the development.
He said it had been ‘one of my toughest days to deal with as a captain’, but added: ‘Quinton is an adult. You have to respect his decision, whether you agree with it or not. I can’t force others to see things the way I do, and neither can they force me.’
The drama began a few hours before Tuesday’s match, when the South African board told their players ‘to adopt a consistent and united stance against racism’ and take a knee ahead of every match.
But de Kock — his side’s opener, wicketkeeper and best batsman — decided during the coach journey to the Dubai International Cricket stadium that he would not join in, effectively ruling himself out of the match, and possibly the tournament.
Cricket South Africa released a statement following Tuesday’s incident.
‘Cricket South Africa has noted the personal decision by South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock not to ‘take the knee’ ahead of Tuesday’s game against the West Indies,’ the statement read.
‘All players had been required, in line with a directive of the CSA board on Monday evening … in a united and consistent stance against racism.
‘The Board will await a further report from team management before deciding on the next steps.’
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard appeared unaware of the day’s events but said taking a knee was ‘something we feel strongly about as a team and as a people’.
Cricket South Africa ordered their players to take the knee following their disjointed support for the Black Lives Matter movement against Australia last week (above)
De Kock is seen on the far left here electing not to take the knee before a T20 match against Sri Lanka last September
De Kock has long chosen to stand while his team-mates took the knee in previous matches
‘We will continue to do it. Everyone has their own opinions on it. Education is the key.’
It is not the first time de Kock has gone against the grain.
In June, before a Test against West Indies in St Lucia, he was the only South African to opt against the gesture, later saying: ‘I’ll keep my reasons to myself.’
Meanwhile, the mood wasn’t pleasant in the commentary box with ex-West Indies captain Darren Sammy saying he didn’t understand why taking a knee was so hard.
‘Sometimes I don’t understand why is it so difficult to support this movement if you understand what it stands for,’ he said.
‘That’s just my opinion what my kind have been through. There are a lot of issues affecting the world but I don’t understand why it’s so difficult.’
Cricket South Africa responded yesterday by putting out another statement, insisting ‘it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a stand against racism, especially given South Africa’s history’.
It remains unclear what this will mean for de Kock’s future in the tournament.
The taking a knee stance first gained traction from American footballer Colin Kaepernick who crouched onto one knee during the national anthem before a football match in 2016.
At the time he said he couldn’t stand and show respect for a country that oppressed people of colour.