T20 World Cup

Pommie's passionate take on De Kock: 'Excuse me for being political, but I cannot shed my skin'

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Comentator Pommie Mbangwa (L) looks on during an ICC Cricket World Cup game. (Photo by Stu Forster-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)
Comentator Pommie Mbangwa (L) looks on during an ICC Cricket World Cup game. (Photo by Stu Forster-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)
  • Commentators on the Proteas/West Indies game Pommie Mbangwa and Daren Sammy gave their input on CSA's directive.
  • The directive compelled all players to take the knee before every game for as long as they are at the World Cup.
  • Following the directive, Quinton de Kock made himself unavailable for selection, setting off a wide-ranging and reverberating debate.

Commentators Pommie Mbangwa and Daren Sammy on Tuesday joined many in interrogating the reasons for Quinton de Kock's shock withdrawal from the team following a directive to take the knee.

As Proteas captain Temba Bavuma conducted his pre-match interview, the headline grabber was not whether the team would bowl or bat first, but rather the fact that talisman De Kock was missing.

As the news reverberated in sports circles – and before any official announcement from Cricket South Africa – it was clear why De Kock was missing from proceedings in the Proteas’ must-win clash against the West Indies in Dubai on Tuesday: a directive from the CSA board compelled players to take the knee in adopting a "consistent and united stance against racism."

The official word from Bavuma was that De Kock had withdrawn for "personal reasons", however, after the anthems were wrapped up, Mbangwa and former West Indies captain Sammy read between the lines.

Indeed, there have been question marks over the lack of uniformity among Proteas players in giving a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement.

As reported by Sport24: On 26 December last year, ahead of their Test against Sri Lanka, the Proteas raised their fists in awkward unison, a gesture they seldom repeated together afterwards.

During the West Indies tour in June, some players knelt before play started, while others stood, in a similar scene to the one that played out at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium last Saturday. It was at this juncture, that the CSA board felt the position of the team on the anti-discrimination message was untenable. 

Mbangwa began: "I dare say, Darren, that cricket will take a back seat and it’s a big statement for me to make in a cricket World Cup where absolutely everybody would like to play.

"I would say as the team concerned is South Africa, who have a history of exclusion and racism. And for this as an issue to still be here, is huge. Excuse me for being political because some will say it is being political, but I cannot shed my skin. I hope, I hope that the discussion at the very least can be about how to be united, about something that everybody agrees on. This is also in the hope that there is an agreement in that regard."

Sammy concurred: "Yeah, sometimes I don’t understand why is it so difficult to support this movement if you understand what it stands for. That’s just my opinion. What my kind have been through…"

De Kock has not taken part in any gestures supporting the movement, saying in June that was down to his "own personal opinion".

ALSO READ | Who's saying what on Quinton de Kock controversy

Mbangwa concluded his passionate peroration saying: "I'll say this with regard to Quinton de Kock that freedom of choice is fair enough. I don’t want to speculate on what the personal reasons exactly are because I haven’t got those but I hope that discussion can actually be had. Thank you for letting me have my say. I’ll move on."

The Proteas cruised to an 8-wicket victory against the West Indies as the story off the field continued to develop.

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