Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has been suspended for four matches for racial comments aimed at South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo, ICC announced on Sunday (January 27).
Sarfraz accepted that he was in breach of ICC’s anti-racism code in an incident that happened during the second ODI played in Durban.
While Sarfraz could have been available for the final T20 of the ongoing series against South Africa after missing the last two ODIs and the first two T20s of the series to follow, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has asked him to return home. Shoaib Malik will lead the side in his absence.
“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,” said ICC CEO David Richardson.
The stump mic picked Sarfraz referring to Phehlukwayo as the “black guy”. The entire taunt translated to “Hey black guy, where’s your mother sitting today? What [prayer] have you got her to say for you today?”
As per Article 7.3 of the Anti-Racism Code, Sarfraz will also have to undergo an education programme to promote the understanding and awareness of issues directly relevant to the offence that he has committed. The ICC will work with the PCB to determine when and how this should take place.
After the incident generated an online storm, Sarfraz had posted an apology on his Twitter page saying his words weren’t “directed at anyone in particular” and that he had no “intention of upsetting anyone.” He also apologised to Phehlukwayo in person, which the South African all-rounder accepted.
Sarfraz played the third ODI but was left out of the playing XI for the fourth game with Shoaib Malik taking over captaincy duties.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has, however, has conveyed its disappointment at the decision from the ICC and has stated that Sarfraz will head back home from South Africa at the earliest.
“The PCB notes the ICC decision on Sarfaraz Ahmed with its utmost disappointment,” said the press release. “PCB had anticipated that the matter had been resolved amicably between the two players and the two Boards following Sarafraz Ahmed’s public apologies which were accepted by the player, the Board and South Africa cricket team.
“The PCB will be pursuing this matter at the ICC forums with the objective to bring reforms to the Code, promoting amicable resolutions to issues as opposed to penalties. Having said that, the PCB reiterates its zero-tolerance approach towards racist comments and behavior.
“In consultation with Sarfaraz, it has been decided that he will return to Pakistan immediately. Shoaib Malik will captain the team for the remaining ODIs and T20 internationals of the series, while Mohammad Rizwan has been included in the T20I side.”