Despite a half-hearted attempt by Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed to apologise last week for an alleged racist comment he claimed was not directed at the Proteas’ Andile Phehlukwayo, he has been sanctioned with suspension.
He was banned for four matches in total by the ICC.
He claimed on Wednesday the comment was not directed at “anyone in particular”, while many believed it was aimed directly at Phehlukwayo. He still played in the third ODI at Centurion two days ago, which Pakistan lost.
The slur incident happened during the 37th over of South Africa’s innings in their five-wicket win in Durban in the second ODI on Tuesday night when the young all-rounder Phehlukwayo had just reached his maiden ODI fifty.
Sarfraz was caught on the stump microphone chirping Phehlukwayo in Urdu after he edged a single to fine leg.
According to ESPNCricinfo, the visiting captain said: “Abey kaale, teri ammi aaj kahaan baitheen hain? Kya parwa ke aaye hai aaj?”
The specialist website noted the literal translation is: “Hey black guy, where’s your mother sitting today? What [prayer] have you got her to say for you today?”
On Wednesday afternoon, Cricket South Africa confirmed that an investigation had been launched.
“The ICC and the match officials have noted the alleged incident,” Proteas team manager doctor Mohammed Moosajee said.
Match officials then decided that Sarfraz had infringed on the ICC’s Anti-Racism Code.
In his Twiiter apology, Sarfraz said his words were not “directed at anyone in particular” and he had been expressing his “frustration”. He said he hadn’t intended to upset anyone.
The Pakistan tour has had its share of controversy, with Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis suspended for one test match for maintaining a slow over rate in a match.
He said at a press conference this week: “When you come to South Africa, you’ve got to be very careful when you start making comments of a racial nature.
“I saw his apology. He’s obviously taken responsibility, but it’s out of our hands now. The International Cricket Council has got to deal with that now.”
While Du Plessis insists the Proteas take incidents of this nature very seriously, there seemed to be a high degree of calmness in the camp over the saga.
“Andy (Phehlukwayo) says he didn’t even notice it and thus felt it wasn’t really directed at him. I supposed maybe because we didn’t understand it makes a bit of a difference. But it certainly doesn’t sit well with us. There seemed to be immediate regret,” said the South African captain.
“We’re gracious. We forgive quite easily, expect maybe against the Aussies!”
Shoaib Malik has taken over the captaincy for Sunday’s match.
He won the toss and opted to bowl first at The Wanderers in Johannesburg. The only change for South Africa was Imran Tahir replacing his rival spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.