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Ben Stokes fined, handed demerit point for verbal altercation with Wanderers spectator

Broadcasters showed allrounder swearing at a fan who aimed abuse at him during first day of Johannesburg Test

Ben Stokes exchanged words with a spectator, South Africa v England, 4th Test, Day 1, Johannesburg, January 24, 2020

Ben Stokes exchanged words with a spectator  •  Getty Images

Ben Stokes has been fined 15 percent of his match fee and given one demerit point following his outburst against a spectator on the first day of the final Test in Johannesburg.
Stokes, England's vice-captain, was caught by broadcasters reacting angrily to a supporter who had abused him as he felt the field after his dismissal. Stokes appeared to say "Come say that to me outside the ground, you f***ing four-eyed c***."
Stokes was subsequently charged with a Level One offence - the use of an audible obscenity - by Andy Pycroft, the ICC match referee. Stokes admitted the charge and, as a consequence, there was no need for a full hearing. He had already released a statement apologising for the outburst.
As Stokes had no current demerit points, the episode amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist. The accumulation of four or more demerit points in a 24-month period leads to an automatic suspension. The fine will cost Stokes around £2,250.
There was an outside chance Pycroft could have interpreted the incident as a threat of assault or seen it as bringing the game into disrepute. Both charges carry much higher sanctions. But perhaps due to the provocation of Stokes - the supporter is understood to have sworn at him and suggested he look like the singer, Ed Sheeran - and perhaps due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding his father, Ged, who remains in hospital, the more lenient charge was brought.
The incident also raised questions about the stewarding at the ground. The England camp have requested extra protection after their backroom staff were subjected to abuse throughout the first day.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo