South African off-spinner Keshav Maharaj described 'take a knee' rebel Quinton de Kock as a man of "calibre" on Friday and claimed the controversy has helped the team "bond and gel even stronger".
De Kock, one of South Africa's star players at the Twenty20 World Cup, sensationally withdrew from the team for Tuesday's game against West Indies after refusing a demand from Cricket South Africa that all players take a knee at the tournament.
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After a tense stand-off, the 28-year-old De Kock eventually apologised and said he would be happy to join teammates in making the anti-racism gesture. "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 said in a statement.
Maharaj insisted that the fall-out from the controversy, which for many highlighted once again South African sport's uncomfortable relationship with race and equality, will only make the team stronger.
"This has just made us bond and gel even stronger. You'll probably see a lot more energy than you have seen in these last two games," said Maharaj ahead of Saturday's game against Sri Lanka.
CSA ordered all their players to take a knee after pictures from their opening World Cup game against Australia showed them adopting various positions.