South African cricket star Quinton de Kock on Thursday apologised for his refusal to take the knee in a T20 World Cup match that brewed up a storm in the cricket world.

De Kock pulled out of Tuesday’s match against holders West Indies for “personal reasons”, defying orders from Cricket South Africa to their players on following the anti-racism gesture. They acted after pictures emerged from the team’s first game against Australia at the weekend where some players knelt and some stood. De Kock had refused to take a knee in South Africa’s Test series in the West Indies earlier this year.

A day later, de Kock apologised saying he would be “happy” to do it if it educates others.

Full text: ‘I’m not a racist’ – Quinton De Kock’s statement after controversy over taking the knee

“I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home,” de Kock said in a statement on Thursday.

“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.”

De Kock explained he comes from a mixed race family with his half-sisters being coloured and his stepmother is black. “For me, Black lives have mattered since I was born. Not just because there was an international movement,” said the 28-year-old.

Here’s a look at the sequence of events surrounding the decision and what followed.

Bavuma at the toss

Captain Temba Bavuma said Quinton de Kock had opted out of the team’s match against holders West Indies on Tuesday due to “personal reasons”.

De Kock’s decision came after Cricket South Africa ordered the players to take the knee in support of anti-racism.

Reeza Hendricks replaced him in the team with Heinrich Klaasen performing the wicketkeeping duties.

Cricket South Africa statement

The country’s cricket board soon sent out a statement saying they have “noted the personal decision by South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock not to take the knee” ahead of Tuesday’s match.

“The Board will await a further report from team management before deciding on the next steps. All players are expected to follow this directive (to take the knee) for the remaining games of the World Cup,” the statement added.

South Africa went on to win their match against the West Indies by eight-wickets.

Bavuma’s ‘toughest’ day

Bavuma, the national cricket team’s first black African captain, said de Kock’s decision came as a “surprise” to the team.

Bavuma revealed the board’s directive came on the morning of the match and he was apprised of de Kock’s decision in the team bus en route to the stadium.

He said the day was the “toughest” thus far of his captaincy having succeeded de Kock as one day skipper in August.

Full text: Bavuma on one of his toughest days, finding out about de Kock’s decision and more

Cricket world divided

Former cricketers turned pundits came out with their take on the de Kock saga that many believed had more to it than just taking the knee.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said: “Surely it’s down to the individual to decide whether he or she wants to be involved in any movement,” and the board should not stop the person from playing cricket.

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy said: “Sometimes I don’t understand why is it so difficult to support this movement if you understand what it stands for.”

Full Text: Pommie Mbangwa, Darren Sammy’s heartfelt commentary on racism and taking a knee

The apology

De Kock finally came out with an apology on Thursday morning to settle matters and inform everyone he will be “happy” to take the knee along with his team-mates.

De Kock said he is “deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger” that he has caused.

De Kock explained he comes from a mixed race family with his half-sisters being coloured and his stepmother is black.

The board welcomed his decision and admitted “the timing” of their directive on taking the knee could have been better as it unsettled a lot of players.

With AFP Inputs