South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock chose not to kneel and withdrew from his side's T20 World Cup clash against West Indies because he "took umbrage at the fact there was an instruction given with no choice for players", according to a veteran cricket writer.
De Kock, a former captain of South Africa's national cricket team, pulled out of the West Indies clash after refusing the "take the knee" as part of a gesture calling for racial equality.
De Kock's absence was a big blow as Proteas captain Temba Bavuma revealed at the toss it was due to "personal reasons".
Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed that "the personal decision by South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock not to 'take the knee'" ahead of Tuesday's game against the West Indies was behind his withdrawal.
De Kock's stance comes after CSA issued a directive to the national team for all players to kneel before T20 World Cup matches "in a united and consistent stance against racism".
South African cricket writer Lungani Zama told SEN Breakfast de Kock chose not to kneel because players were forced to do so and withdrew from the game because he believes taking the knee is a "token gesture".
"Given the amount of time South Africa have had to take a definitive, collective stance on it and then they've almost made up the rule in the middle of a tournament ahead of a must-win game (de Kock withdrew)," Zama said.
"The previous board had said to them that every player is allowed to express themselves in whichever way they deem fit. To suddenly change that on the eve of such an important match ... I think because their constitutional rights were taken away from them, it was an instruction from the boss when it hadn't been previously discussed.
"Added to that, from my conversations with him before, he sees it as a token gesture which has been watered down to almost mean nothing. It's something that you have to do to be seen to be doing the right thing.
"His preference is to actually do the right thing, which he does in the way that he lives, the way that he interacts, and the way that he treats people of all races.
"It's the token gesture for him that's the issue.
"I'll qualify it by saying Quinton de Kock, if you're asking me if he's racist or against Black Lives Matter, I'll unequivocally say no because I know him personally.
"I know the work that he's done to improve the lives and experiences of black players and black people around him for years and years, long before Black Lives Matter was a trend on social media."
Fans were quick to react to the news of de Kock's withdrawal. Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted: "I fear we haven't heard the last of the de Kock issue. I won't be surprised if we don't see him in a Protea shirt again."
The Daily Telegraph has since reported that de Kock sensationally walked out of the T20 World Cup and will play no further part in the tournament.
It didn't hamper South Africa as they thrashed the Windies by eight wickets, reaching their target of 144 with eight balls to spare — but the result was overshadowed by de Kock's call.
In a statement after de Kock's decision to withdraw from the match, CSA said: "All players had been required, in line with a directive of the CSA Board on Monday evening, to 'take the knee' in a united and consistent stance against racism.
"This is also the global gesture against racism that has been adopted by sportspeople across sporting codes because they recognise the power of sport to bring people together.
"After considering all relevant issues, including the freedom of choice of players, the Board had made it clear it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a stand against racism, especially given SA's history. The Board's view was that while diversity can and should find expression in many facets of daily lives, this did not apply when it came to taking a stand against racism.
"The Board will await a further report from team management before deciding on the next steps. All players are expected to follow this directive for the remaining games of the World Cup.
"CSA thanks all other Proteas players for agreeing to unite and make such an important public stand against racism."
South Africa, West Indies captains weigh in
South African skipper Bavuma faced plenty of questions about de Kock in the post-match press conference.
"We were obviously surprised and taken aback by the news," Bavuma said. "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 not having that at my disposal as a captain was obviously something I wasn't looking forward to."
Bavuma, who earlier this year became the first black captain of South Africa after replacing de Kock in the limited overs format, revealed he came to know of his teammate's decision on the bus ride to Dubai.
But Bavuma said he still respects the stand of his senior player.
"The instruction from the board (to take the knee) came in this morning. A meeting was convened between a couple of members, and that's where that message was passed on to us," said Bavuma.
"I think the trip (to the stadium) 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.
"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."
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said "education is key" in the anti-racism movement but refused to get into the debate about de Kock's controversial withdrawal.
"You guys know our thoughts on this matter. It's something that we feel strongly about as a team and as a people, as well, and we will continue to do it," Pollard said on taking the knee ahead of every game.
"Each and everyone has their own opinions on it, but as I've always said, once you're educated and you understand, we will understand you doing it, but I think education sort of is the key, and we don't want anyone doing it for us in solitude or to feel sorry for us."