Waleed Aly has jumped to the defence of one of the world's best cricketers who refused to take a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement.
South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock made headlines around the world on Tuesday when he refused to take a knee at the T20 World Cup.
His refusal to participate in the anti-racism gesture sparked an explosive reaction in Australia, where indigenous ABC Breakfast presenter Tony Armstrong 'saw red' and blasted the South African's actions as 'racist' live on air.
De Kock, who comes from a mixed race family, issued an apology and explained his actions by saying he felt his rights were 'taken away' after players were instructed just hours before the game to take a knee.
The Project co-host, who is of Egyptian background and is Muslim, leapt to de Kock's defence and said he understood the cricketer's reluctance.
'Especially when it came out that he was just told on the way to the ground and all of that sort of stuff,' Aly told the program on Thursday night.
'I think that there's a thing that sport has to think about here, which is, it's one thing for sport to take a stand...
'It's another thing when you compel every player to take the same stand, especially when you compel them a couple of hours before a game.'
Aly said it was unfair of Cricket South Africa to spring the directive on players and that though he himself would have complied by taking the knee, he understands why de Koch took a defiant stand.
'There was no conversation and suddenly he's meant to process this and take on something that the game or Cricket South Africa and a statement that they want to make as his own personal one,' Aly continued.
'Yeah, if I was in his position, I'm taking the knee. But I can kind of understand why it would trip a wire.
'It's a really weird situation for a player to be in.'
South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock made headlines around the world on Tuesday when he refused to take a knee at the T20 World Cup
Armstrong, who was a guest panelist on The Project, agreed.
He has backed down from his fiery rant and described de Koch's apology as 'incredible'.
'Full credit it to him for coming out with such a strong statement, really explaining what it was all about,' he said.
Earlier in the segment, Armstrong, a former AFL star, explained why he 'saw red' and reacted so strongly to the controversy a day earlier.
'I felt so visceral about the fact that this player was not going to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement,' he said,
'While I understand that it can be tokenistic for big sport to go out there and take a knee, but what are they really doing behind it?
'It still means a lot to see it. It means a lot to me. I feel it. And I felt myself getting more and more angry about this.'
Indigenous ABC Breakfast presenter Tony Armstrong 'saw red' and blasted the South African's actions as 'racist' live on air
Armstrong accepted de Kock's explanation and admitted he made a mistake by assuming the cricketer was racist for not taking a knee.
'I'm so glad that he's come out and said what he said. Because I think what he might not have realised in the moment was - just what it means to so many people,' he said.
'I questioned, I guess, how racist do you have to be to not want to do the bare minimum by taking a knee? And that was just- you know, that was a mistake on my behalf in hindsight.
'But in the moment, that was exactly how I felt because I saw a lack of support for that movement and for that moment. And whilst it's such a little thing, it clearly goes such a long way.'
All players and staff were directed to take a knee before the T20 World Cup match between South Africa and the West Indies on Tuesday night.
De Kock refused and instead pulled out of the match altogether for 'personal reasons'.
He has since apologised to his teammates and fans, saying it was never meant to be a 'Quinton' thing.
'I felt like my rights were taken away when I was told what we had to do in the way that we were told,' he said, adding he thinks other players were also uncomfortable with the order,' he said.
Aly said it was unfair of Cricket South Africa to spring the directive on players and that why he would have complied by taking the knee, he understands why de Koch took a defiant stand
'I did not, in any way, mean to disrespect anyone by not playing against West Indies, especially the West Indian team themselves.
'Maybe some people don´t understand that we were just hit with this on Tuesday morning, on