Quinton de Kock has apologised to his South Africa team-mates and the country back home after withdrawing from their T20 World Cup game against the West Indies because of his refusal to take the knee.
De Kock issued a lengthy statement on Thursday morning, two days after rebuffing a directive from Cricket South Africa (CSA) which stated all players must take part in the anti-racism gesture for the rest of the tournament.
“I would like to start by saying sorry to my team-mates, and the fans back home,” he said.
“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 went on to explain that matters relating to race are close to his heart as some of his family members are non-white, but he felt his own “rights” were taken away by CSA’s order which was only disclosed to him on the morning of the game.
“I am deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused,” he added.
“For those who don’t know, I come from a mixed-race family. For me, black lives have mattered since I was born. Not just because there was an international movement.
“The rights and equality of all people is more important than any individual. I was raised to understand that we all have rights, and they are important.
“I felt like my rights were taken away when I was told what we had to do in the way that we were told.
“Since our chat with the board last night, which was very emotional, I think we all have a better understanding of their intentions as well.
“I wish this had happened sooner, because what happened on match day could have been avoided.”
De Kock added: “If I was racist, I could easily have taken the knee and lied, which is wrong and doesn’t build a better society. Those who have grown up with me and played with me, know what type of person I am.
“I’ve been called a lot of things as a cricketer but those didn’t hurt. Being called a racist because of a misunderstanding hurts me deeply. It hurts my family. It hurts my pregnant wife.
“I am not a racist. In my heart of hearts, I know that. And I think those who know me know that.”
The wicketkeeper-batter went on to praise the leadership of Temba Bavuma, South Africa’s first permanent black captain, and concluded his statement by saying he would like to be back in the team if they would accept him.
He said: “I just want to thank my team-mates for their support, especially my captain, Temba. People might not recognise, but he is a flipping amazing leader.
“If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again.”