South African star Quinton de Kock on Thursday made himself available for his team's remaining matches of the T20 World Cup, saying he is fine taking a knee if it "educates others" and that he was deeply hurt at being called a racist for refusing to make the gesture earlier.
The wicketkeeper-batter pulled out of South Africa's Group 1 Super 12 stage match against the West Indies in Dubai on Tuesday, his decision coming after the Cricket South Africa ordered players to take the knee before every game. The stunning move had led to widespread speculation about his playing future.
"I am deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused. I was quiet on this very important issue until now. But I feel I have to explain myself a little bit," he said in a statement posted by CSA.
In his long statement, de Kock asserted that Black lives mattered to him due to his family background and not because of an international campaign.
"If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better. I am more than happy to do so," he asserted.
De Kock explained that he did not take a knee before Tuesday's match because of the manner in which the diktat was issued to the players.
"I won't lie. I was shocked that we were told on the way to an important match that there was an instruction that we had to follow, with a perceived "or else." I don't think I was the only one," he said.
"...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," he said.
"I am not a racist. In my heart of hearts. I know that. And I think those who know me know that I know I'm not great with words, but I've tried my best to explain how truly sorry I am for making like this is about me," de Kock pleaded.
With inputs from PTI.