T20 World Cup: Buttler expects England unity after De Kock breaks from South Africa pack over taking the knee

By Sports Desk October 26, 2021

Jos Buttler promised England would take a united stand against racism before their T20 World Cup match against Bangladesh – after South Africa's Quinton de Kock refused to take the knee.

De Kock was conspicuous by his absence from South Africa's team for their victory against West Indies.

An initial announcement that he missed the game for personal reasons was followed by a fuller explanation, after it became abundantly clear why De Kock was playing no part.

Cricket South Africa had ordered their players to take the knee before the remainder of their games in the tournament, and such a demand did not sit right with the wicketkeeper-batsman. South Africa said the 28-year-old made himself unavailable.

The anti-racism gesture, linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, is one the England team have embraced previously, and Buttler said there would be a team-wide message sent out ahead of their next match too.

Asked about the De Kock situation, and whether England would be taking a knee on Wednesday, Buttler told a news conference: "Yeah, I think our position as a team is we stand against any form of discrimination.

"What we would like to do as a team is take a moment of unity which we did at times during our summer. We all need to reciprocate the opposition. West Indies like to take a knee, so we wanted to reciprocate that in the first game.

"But yeah, hopefully we can make some form at the start. But as a side and our culture as a team, we of course stand against any form of discrimination, and we are very passionate about that."

There is no suggestion De Kock has taken his stance for any reason other than believing there should be a right to choose how and when to oppose racism. He has in the past refused to take the knee, saying the reason for doing so was "my own personal opinion". He may be asked to expand on that in light of being absent from Tuesday's World Cup game.

Buttler was asked whether it was the job of cricket boards to impose such demands on players, and said: "I'm not sure, to be honest. I can only speak about myself and our team. I think it's something we feel strongly about. It's an important part of our culture as a team, and that's all I can say on that."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said on Twitter that it should be "down to the individual" and that a player should not be kept out of games for refusing to engage with such movements.

Whether England take the knee or not against Bangladesh may depend on what stance the opposition consider most appropriate.

Asked whether he knew exactly what gesture England would make, Buttler said: "No, I don't. I think it's something we'd like to do as a team. I think you have to get some clearance from the ICC [International Cricket Council] for that, as well.

"It's something we would like to do as a team, but I don't know the specifics behind it at the moment."

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