It is very unfortunate that the exciting ICC men’s T20 world Cup 2021 is affected by a largely unneeded controversy. Have any teams ever at international competitions have a problem with singing the national anthem? Does any team be against their rivals singing their national hymns? Definitely not, it’s being an accepted custom in nearly all tournaments in various areas of sport. So, the ‘personal decision issue is never mentioned in this case. Then, why this syndrome must be brought up by ‘kneeling down in support of a noble cause? In our school days our teachers would have us kneel down on innumerable occasions clearly to correct our faults and to prove that we’re better human beings today.
Did we even think of making a decision in our democracy in those instances? There is a Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, started in 2013 , ‘as a decentralized social and political movement protesting against incidents of police brutality and all racially-motivated violence against blacks’ all over the world is completely justified. The movement had its ups and downs however, following the brutal police killing of a black protester George Floyd in the US in 2020 , it gained international attention as well as Michael Holding, ex-cricketer of the West Indies, took painstaking efforts to bring it in the world of cricket. Unfortunately for him, his game had seen the ugly expressions of racism at a number of times in international cricket, not just with blacks, but also the so-called ‘colored players.
We’ve seen in most of the matches played so far at the current World Cup teams taking the knee prior to the beginning of each match to show their support for the scourge of racism. The ICC has not issued any specific instructions regarding this gesture, but made it voluntary for teams. Cricket South Africa (CSA) the country that was boycotted by the international community for years because of their notorious policies regarding the Apartheid is an example in making this gesture compulsory for their team prior to the beginning of the season. What’s wrong with taking this noble step and what does individual choice arise in these crucial international contexts? Team India has also adopted the gesture in accordance with instructions given by the cricket board and England made the same gesture in their match against West Indies like most other teams.
The noble gesture was also made during South Africa’s starter match against Australia; of course it wasn’t involving all players. But suddenly and most significantly as the encounter was against the West Indies, South Africa’s most important opening batsman and wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock took an issue of in the media, accusing him of refusing to kneel because of personal reasons. He not only refused to perform the gesture however, he also resigned from the game in the final minutes , which was confirmed by the CSA. This is extremely disturbing, due to the fact that de Kock has also been a prominent cricketer for the Indian Premiere League (IPL) for a long time, playing for Mumbai Indians. Mumbai Indians (the franchise may be releasing him in the near future due to the negative impact) that included a lot of black and ‘colored’ players. In reality, India is a country made up of people of color only. What is the reason de Kock never objected to playing continuously with them, as a full-time team member? If his “personal choice” is not to support the BLM movement then it stinks of racism, or else de Kock is perhaps a unwavering supporter of the “white supremacy’ idea that has been advocated by the former President of USA, Donald Trump. We strongly condemn his behavior at the World Cup which may ultimately have a negative impact on his professional cricket career. South Africa, obviously, would not wish to lose such an important player. The CSA must make the final judgment regarding the fate of Quinton de Kock, even though certain reports in the media suggest that the player is withdrawn from the entire tournament while others think that this could be mark the final time we’ve seen him in action.
We are hoping for a peaceful solution for all those involved in the noble cause high while respecting the ideals and the movement by Nelson Mandela and suitable punishment for those who are guilty of being racist. The ICC is, in fact, ought to take this chance to make the ‘taking the knee’ an obligatory gesture for all teams participating. The Council is rightly adamant about banning any type of religious or political gesture while in supporting this noble cause, there must not be any doubt about the rules of democracy.
In the game with the insecure West Indies where the controversy was raging, South Africa won easily, without de Kock. Also, in other games Afghanistan in Group-2 scored a huge victory over the top of the qualifying Group-B Scotland which was even more impressive than that of Pakistan’s against India. Pakistan continue their exciting run of success by beating New Zealand, although they had to fight to achieve an unattainable target of 135 runs. England in Group-1 are also keeping their fearsome bulldozing progress by beating Bangladesh. In both cases, Pakistan and England are apparently enjoying their luck thus far as per the behaviour of the slow pitches and the dew factor later for the bowling side. After making history when they made progress to the Super-12 stage for the first time by beating a well-placed Ireland, Namibia won their first game in the World Cup against Scotland with some comfort in Group 2.
Chinmay Chakravarty is a professional skilled in the field of creativity with more than two decades of experience in journalistic writing, media co-ordination and film script writing dubbing for films, film & video making, management of international film festivals, and editing of books & journals. Professionally trained in providing professional services in these related fields. Awarded the rank of officer to the Indian Information Service and superannuated from the post of Director, Press Information Bureau, Kolkata in Novemberof 2019. Published his first solo book “Laugh and Let Laugh’ in 2017. His second book The Cheerless Chauffeur and Other Tales’ in 2021.