Johannesburg – Temba Bavuma believes that the pressure put on the Proteas men’s team regarding kneeling as a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement has been unfair.
Speaking after the side’s return from the T20 World Cup, Bavuma felt there needed to be more reflecting on what the gesture means and the authenticity behind it. “As a South African cricket side we’ve been put under immense pressure, around this whole topic more than any other international teams, more than any other of our local teams, for whatever reason that may be,” Bavuma said on Tuesday.
“I think the work, the effort that has gone in behind the scenes, not enough attention or acknowledgement has been given to our team. Probably because of the fact that people from the outside don’t get to see or hear the conversations that we have. Sometimes the pressure that is mounted on us is a bit unfair.”
The Proteas were in the eye of a storm at the T20 World Cup when Cricket SA’s Board of Directors issued an order that all the players take a knee for the second match of the competition against the West Indies and then for the remainder of the tournament. The directive was made just hours before the start of that match and led to Quinton de Kock refusing to play.
Following talks involving the players and the Board, De Kock returned for the remaining group matches, but the issue will be in the spotlight again when Proteas take on their next assignment, against the Netherlands later this month. “Going forward, a decision (on what to do regarding kneeling) is going to have to be a collective one,” said Bavuma. “That is the important thing. We want to avoid a situation where things are being dictated or instructed towards players. We want to avoid that. Let it be a collective one.”
In the West Indies, the players were allowed to choose which gesture to make; most of the white players chose to stand, some with their fists raised and others including De Kock with their hands behind their back. That stayed the case throughout the tours to Ireland and Sri Lanka, but at the World Cup, following the first match against Australia, the Board felt that had to change.
Bavuma believes a lot more emphasis needs to be placed on what happens beyond kneeling. “The important bit for me is, how does this translate into our everyday lives? We can all go out there, raise our fists, go on the knee, but, if deep down in the heart, you are not really for the cause and what it stands for, and it doesn’t show in your everyday behaviour, I guess it brings into question the authenticity of it all.”
“Our country has big, big, big problems and that’s where the energy, in my opinion, should really be centered,” Bavuma added.
The team were yet to meet about the issue, but Bavuma felt that the next step needs to involve all the stakeholders in the sport. “Everyone will have to get together, Dean Elgar (the Test captain) will have to be a part of the conversation, to see how we are going to do things going forward.”
“Conversations need to happen. I assume all decision-makers, all roleplayers will be involved in that decision; it’s probably a situation where it is the team, the Board, Graeme Smith (CSA’s Director of Cricket) as well and then a decision will be made on that.”