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News

Sarfraz Ahmed apologises for controversial on-field taunt

While Andile Phehlukwayo seemed to be the target of his comment, the Pakistan captain tweeted that it was not 'directed towards anyone in particular'

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed spoke at a press conference ahead of his team's Champions Trophy final against India, London, June 17, 2017

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed spoke at a press conference ahead of his team's Champions Trophy final against India  •  Getty Images

Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, has issued a general apology on Twitter for his controversial on-field taunt during the second ODI in Durban on Tuesday. But Sarfraz did not apologise to - or even mention - Andile Phehlukwayo, the South African allrounder at whom his comment, which included a racist epithet, seemed to be aimed. Instead, Sarfraz said his remark - which seemed to specifically reference the amount of fortune Phehlukwayo enjoyed while batting - was "not directed towards anyone in particular".
During the 37th over of South Africa's chase, Sarfraz was caught on the 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 [prayer] have you got her to say for you today?"
*On Wednesday night, the PCB issued a statement expressing its regret over Sarfraz's comments, and said the incident "highlighted the importance and significance of player education and training at all levels".
"The PCB expresses regret over the remark made by their captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and picked up by the stump mic during the second ODI against South Africa in Durban," the statement said. "The PCB neither endorses nor supports any comments that have the potential to cause offence, and firmly reiterates their zero-tolerance approach towards racist comments made; in whatever context.
"This incident has also highlighted the importance and significance of player education and training at all levels. The PCB endeavors to improve their player education programmes to ensure these types of incidents do not happen again.
"Sarfaraz is one of the most respected cricketers in the world. However, captaining Pakistan is a massive honour and any hurtful remarks by any cricketer, let alone the captain, are not acceptable to the PCB.
"The PCB is confident that this incident will not affect the series, which has been played in great spirit with some excellent performances from both side [sic]. The PCB is also hopeful that the crowds will continue to turn up in big numbers for the remaining matches to support cricket."
Until Sarfraz's tweets and the PCB's statement, only CSA of the involved parties had made any public comment on the matter. South Africa's team manager Mohammed Moosajee confirmed that the ICC had taken note of the incident. It is believed that Ranjan Madugalle, the match referee, has met with Sarfraz to discuss the incident, but the ICC has not made a public statement yet.
"The ICC and the match officials have noted the alleged incident," Moosajee said. "They have started the necessary procedures to investigate the matter. We can only comment once we have received the results of the investigation. Any further clarification/updates have to go through the ICC."
In fact, nearly 24 hours after the incident, there is no clarity yet on whether the incident, if any action will be taken against it, is to be treated under the ICC's code of conduct for player behaviour or the ICC's anti-racism code. While insulting or obscene and offensive language falls under the code of conduct, language that is deemed "likely to offend another person on the basis of their race, religion, gender, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin" falls under the anti-racism code.
Depending on what the code violation turns out to be, the window for reporting an offence can be anywhere between 48 hours to seven days.
*GMT 1820 The story was updated to include the PCB's statement.