South Africa captain Temba Bavuma said it was one of the toughest days for him after he had to deal with the withdrawal of Quinton de Kock over refusing to take the knee ahead of the team’s crucial ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match in Dubai on Tuesday.
Aiden Markram struck a whirlwind unbeaten fifty as South Africa produced an all-round effort to bounce back strongly from their opening defeat and beat West Indies by eight wickets to secure their first win in the Super 12 stage.
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The Proteas overcame some off-field drama coming into the match when wicketkeeper-batter de Kock stunningly withdrew from the game, as he did not want to take the knee as per Cricket South Africa’s order that the entire team must do so before every game of the event.
The board had said that the decision was taken because concerns were raised that the different postures taken by team members in support of the Black Lives Matter initiative created an unintended perception of disparity or lack of support for the initiative.
Temba Bavuma’s team took the knee after opting to field first.
“When the news hit us it did kind of take us back as a team,” Bavuma said of the decision by De Kock.
“A guy like Quinnie, he obviously plays an integral role within the team, not just with the bat but as a senior player.
“But with that, (Heinrich) Klaasen coming in there was an opportunity for him, it was another game of cricket that we had to play for our country and we had to live up to that.”
Here’s the transcript of Bavuma’s press conference at the end of the match where he spoke in detail about what transpired in Dubai:
Temba, congratulations on the victory today. What are your immediate thoughts and feelings on the performance?
Obviously ecstatic. That was obviously the plan, to come in here to win, to get our campaign started. After the first game we knew that there were areas that we had to improve within our game, more particularly with the bat, and to go out there and be clinical with the bat, that’s, I guess, a good step in the right direction.
You talked about being clinical with the bat there. Also you’ve got to say a big thanks to your bowlers, I think, for the way they bowled at the start of the game in the powerplay overs. Was that a big turning point and a big boost for you guys in order to limit the total that you had to chase in the second innings?
Yeah, I think obviously us winning the toss and electing to bowl was obviously part of the plan to restrict them as much as you can. Our bowlers have been fantastic over the last while, and again, they showed their skill and their class.
Yeah, I think it was a good day out in the field for us with the ball and also in the field as fielders.
Temba, I would like to know your reaction and the team’s reaction after you came to know that Quinton de Kock will not take the knee, and given South Africa’s history with racism, what is your personal opinion about this? The follow-up question will be if he continues the stand of not taking the knee, would South Africa seek a replacement?
Okay, I’ll answer the first question. I think obviously as a team we’re obviously surprised and taken aback by the news. Obviously Quinton is a big player for the team, not just with the bat, but the role he plays from a senior point of view and from an experience point of view, and not having that at my disposal as a captain was obviously something I wasn’t looking forward to.
In saying that, Quinton is an adult. He’s a man in his own shoes. We respect his decision. We respect his convictions. I know that he’ll be standing behind whatever decision that he’s taken.
From the team’s point of view, unfortunately we still have to get the job done. There was still a game of cricket there for our country, and it was important, as much as everything was happening, that we found a way to get into the right mental space and take it home for our country.
The second question, look, I don’t know how far it’s going to develop. I mean, the decision that he’s taken is only today, so I can only speak about what has happened today. It wouldn’t be my decision whether to replace Quinton or to get a substitute. That would be probably the coach and the selectors.
But as far as we stand, Quinton is still one of the players. He’s still one of the boys, so whatever support that he needs, whatever shoulder that he requires from his teammates, we’ll be there for him.
If there’s a need for further conversations to be had, I’m sure those will definitely happen amongst the guys.
Can you just give us a bit of a timeline of when the team were notified by the board of the directive to take a knee, and when did Quinny announce that he was withdrawing from the team?
The instruction from the board came in the morning, this morning. A meeting was convened between a couple of members, and that’s where that message was passed on to us. We then before, I guess, getting on the bus to travel to Dubai, that message was passed on to the players.
I think the trip was about an hour and a half to two hours. In that trip I guess that’s where Quinton made his decision. We found out – I found out as the captain when we got to the changing room. Yeah.
Just in regards to – you just mentioned the timeline. That’s chaotic in its own right. Are you disappointed that CSA would send out something this big hours before a World Cup game?
Look, it’s probably not ideal. But I think in any case, we would have had to deal with it as players, whether the instruction came this morning, whether it came last night. I think we would have had to deal with it as players. It definitely wasn’t ideal.
But those are just the cause that we’ve been told as a team.
I think the good thing is that we were still able to find a way to get on the field and represent our country as well as we did today.
In what you’re saying there, it doesn’t seem as though Quinton de Kock explained his decision to you or to anyone else. Are you aware of why he doesn’t want to take a knee, and what was the conversation like amongst other players who haven’t taken a knee given that they’re now being directed to?
Yeah, I think you’ve got to appreciate the fact that the instruction came this morning from the board, and there wasn’t a great deal of time for us to kind of thoroughly discuss this matter. Unfortunately for us as players, it was a matter of us digesting what we’ve been told and finding a way for us to move forward.
We’ve got a couple of days until our next game, and I think – those days I think will be tough for the group, but I think guys will want to know in terms of his decision, they will use that time to find out, to find it out a bit better.
I mean, like I said, Quinton is an adult; he made his decision. You kind of have to respect the decision that he made, whether you agree with it or not.
I just want to know, was it ever an issue in the team that everyone sort of had the option of doing their own thing? I know obviously the obvious answer would be no, but was there ever maybe subconsciously or something from one group of players that was angry with a different group of players that didn’t kneel or anything like that?
That’s a tough question to answer. I mean, I don’t want to be the one to be fueling any type of drama to say that a certain group had an issue with the fact that guys had a choice. We live in South Africa. We are governed by a constitution that allows guys their freedom to express their views, their choices.
That’s exactly what happened with this matter. I think it’s something that we’ve spoken about. At least from the team’s point of view, we’ve spoken about it extensively. There have been statements that have been issued to help, I guess, guide the media, guide the fans in regards to our decision.
I really don’t think that I should be speaking to that again. So no, I’m not in the subconscious of any player. No.
Rababa yesterday mentioned that increasing the intensity and implementing the tactics for this game was key for you guys. Do you feel you ticked those boxes? Are there any areas you’d like to improve, especially against your next opponent, a formidable side in Sri Lanka? Additionally, give us your review of your personal performance as captain and batting performance.
It’s quite refreshing to get a cricket-based answer. KG was spot on. I think from a bowling point of view, bowling has been our strength over the last couple of months, over the last while, and I think that’s probably largely due to the tactics that we’ve employed. But most importantly them executing as well as they did today was another outing for them in terms of them executing and further strengthening the confidence that we have in our bowling attack.
Insofar as me personally from a captain’s point of view, to be honest with you, probably one of the toughest days I’ve had to deal with as a captain, as a leader of the team. Probably for obvious reasons with the off-field matters. But I’m just glad that we were able to get into the right frame of mind as a team and play the way we played.
I think we shouldn’t look past our performances as a team. Coming from Australia where we lost that first one and then coming up against a powerhouse West Indian side and winning the game with eight wickets, I don’t think that should be taken lightly.
I just wonder what – I appreciate what you’ve said that everyone has a choice about what they do to show their support, but not as a South African, not as a Black South African, just as a human being, how does it make you feel when someone can’t do something as simple and basic as take a knee?
I don’t think it’s as simple as just taking a knee. I think we have to appreciate the fact that we live in a country like South Africa that has its own past that is diverse, diverse in its views, diverse in the way people see things, their backgrounds. Decisions that we take, things that we support are based on our own convictions.
As much as we’re a team, we wear the same shirt, we play for the badge, but outside of that, we still live our own lives, and those lives are different by the very nature that we live in South Africa.
I think for me, over the last while, I’ve learned to, I guess, appreciate that a lot more, try to widen your own perspective as an individual and not expect people to kind of see things the way that you see things. My beliefs, the way that I see things is shaped by my own experiences, my own background, and so is the other person’s.
I guess if there is a disagreement in terms of beliefs, in terms of views, that’s why we have conversations. That’s why we have those hard conversations.
I think through those conversations you’ll be able to get the – I don’t know, the comfort or the ability to accept the other person’s decision. I can’t force anyone to see things the way that I do. Neither can they force me. Yeah.
You’ve spoken about culture, and obviously culture is coming up a lot in cricket in this country. We’ve got the SJN still going on. What do you do now from here because you’re making headlines on the back and the front pages, and there’s obviously discussion about the culture of the team. How do you approach the rest of this World Cup with all this happening in the background?
I think we have to keep focusing as much as we can on the team, most particularly about matters on the field. I think we’ll lose a lot of energy as players if we start giving 100 per cent to everything that is, I guess, being discussed outside of the team.
At the end of the day I think you guys are going to judge us by how well we bowl the ball and how well we hit the ball. That’s what you’re going to judge us by at the end of the day.
I don’t think you’re going to be looking at the fact that we were martyrs or we stood for whatever cause we stood for.
I think me being the leader of the side at the moment is to make sure that our eye is on the ball. We’ve got our next clash, like I said, in two or three days’ time, so I mean, we’ll debrief today, look at all the things that we did right, look at areas that we need to improve on and make sure that when we prepare for our next clash, we prepare for that as wholeheartedly as we can.
But we can’t control things that are happening within the media, but what we can control is things that are happening here within the team.
Temba, today was arguably your toughest day at the office; does it only get easier for the rest of the World Cup?
I don’t think so, to be honest. I think it’s only going to get tougher. I think it’s probably important that as a team, as players, we stay even more together. Look, it’s good for us to get the ball rolling, to get that first win under the belt, and hopefully we can create some momentum with that.
I just want to know, is there like sort of a feeling that it would be better for especially the guys who don’t kneel just to sort of tell everybody – I don’t mean the team, I’m sure they told the team, but tell the fans why they’re not kneeling? Because there’s a huge outcry about guys who didn’t want to kneel.
Yeah, I think with that freedom of choice, as much as you have the choice to decide what you want to do, we can’t escape the consequences of the choices and decisions that we make. I think if there’s people out there who feel that certain things need a bit more clarity, then the fans, the media should do so.
I think there’s nothing that stops people from outside the team in doing so, and it’s probably best that you ask those guys directly.
I think it does become a bit blurry when you’re asking guys about other guys, so if you really wanted to get the clarity that you seem to want, then you should probably ask those individuals themselves.
Transcript courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.