Sarfraz Ahmed suspended for four matches for racist comments
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has been handed a four-match suspension for his racially-motivated comments against South Africa all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo. The wicket-keeper batsman is not playing the ongoing fourth ODI between the two teams at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.
Sarfraz's suspension was confirmed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) under the Anti-Racism Code for Participants.
The 31-year-old was charged under the clause which pertains to "Engaging in any conduct (whether through the use of language, gestures or otherwise) which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify any reasonable person in the position of a Player, Player Support Personnel, Umpire, Match Referee, Umpire Support Personnel or any other person (including a spectator) on the basis of their race, religion, culture, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin."
In the absence of Sarfraz, Shoaib Malik came out for the toss at Johannesburg. He declined to comment regarding the extent of the wicket-keeper batsman's suspension. However, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis indicated a four-match ban at that point in time.
In the aftermath of the toss, the ICC confirmed Sarfraz's suspension through a press release. ICC Chief Executive David Richardson stated, "The ICC has a zero-tolerance policy towards conduct of this nature. Sarfaraz 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."
During the second ODI at Durban on, Sarfraz was caught on stump mic saying in Urdu, "Abey kaale, teri ammi aaj kahaan baitheen hain? Kya parwa ke aaye hai aaj?"
When loosely translated, the comment that was aimed at Phehlukwayo meant, "Hey black (guy), where is your mother sitting today? What (prayer) have you asked her to say for you today?"
Following a heavy backlash, Sarfraz issued a public apology on Twitter. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also issued a statement expressing regret at the gloveman's comment.
Subsequently, Sarfraz met Phehlukwayo and apologised in person for his taunt. He conveyed the development by releasing an image of him with the South Africa all-rounder on his Twitter account.
However, Sarfraz continued to lead Pakistan in the third ODI at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. South Africa won that match to take a 2-1 lead in the 5-match series.
The suspension will see Sarfraz miss the ongoing fourth ODI at Johannesburg, final ODI at Cape Town and the first two T20Is at the same venues.