Centurion: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has been suspended for four matches for the racially-charged comments he seemingly directed at South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo during the Durban ODI. Remarkably the news was announced by the ICC via press release half an hour after it was revealed by the players during the fourth ODI’s toss in Johannesburg.
Shoaib Malik came out to the toss for Pakistan, and said: “We wanted him [Sarfraz], but the incident… we all know what has happened. I don’t want to comment about it. But they’ve given me this opportunity, and I want to do my best.”
It was South Africa captain Faf du Plessis who first indicated that it was a four-match ban for Sarfraz. “We’ve heard that he’s out for four games,” he said during his toss interview.
This means Sarfraz will miss the final two ODIs against South Africa, and then two of the three T20s that follow. Pakistan do not have a back-up wicketkeeper in their T20 squad, so Mohammad Rizwan, who took the gloves in Johannesburg, is likely to stay on after the ODIs.
The ICC release said that Sarfraz will also have to attend “an education programme to promote the understanding and awareness of issues directly relevant to the offence that he has committed”.
In Durban, during Phehlukwayo’s innings, as he got South Africa’s wobbling chase back on track, Sarfraz was heard on the broadcast stump mics saying in Urdu: “Abey kaale, teri ammi aaj kahaan baitheen hain? Kya parwa ke aaye hai aaj?”
Translated literally that is: “Hey black guy, where’s your mother sitting today? What
Since then, Sarfraz has apologised twice, following a general apology on Twitter with a personal one to Phehlukwayo. In his general apology the day after the match, Sarfraz said his comments were “not directed towards anyone in particular”. Then, two days ago, Sarfraz tweeted a picture of himself shaking hands with Phehlukwayo, with this caption: “This morning I apologised to Andile Phehlukwayo and he was gracious enough to accept my apology and I hope the people of South Africa also accept my apology.”
ICC CEO David Richardson said Sarfraz’s apology was taken into account when deciding on his penalty. “The ICC has a zero-tolerance policy towards conduct of this nature,” he said. “Sarfraz has promptly admitted the offence, was regretful of his actions and has issued a public apology, so these factors were taken into account when determining an appropriate sanction.”