The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said it considers the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to ban Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed over his racial slur against South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo with “utmost disappointment”.
While maintaining that it has a zero-tolerance approach towards racist behaviour, the PCB pointed out that the issue that has led to the ban was amicably resolved between Sarfraz and Phehlukwayo and the cricket boards of Pakistan and South Africa.
The apex body of Pakistan cricket also hinted it would appeal against the ban and revealed that Sarfraz Ahmed will be flown back from South Africa. In his absence, Shoaib Malik will lead the team in the remainder of the ongoing ODI series and the T20I series, starting February 1 in the Rainbow Nation.
Sarfraz was handed a four-match ban by the ICC on Sunday over his racist comments during the second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan on Tuesday. Sarfraz had taken a jibe at Phehlukwayo: “Abey kaale, teri ammi aaj kahaan baitheen hain? Kya parwa ke aaye hai aaj?” [Hey black guy, where’s your mother sitting today? What (prayer) have you got her to say for you today?]”
A statement from the PCB read: “The PCB notes the ICC decision on Sarfaraz Ahmed with its utmost disappointment.
“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… Mohammad Rizwan has been included in the T20I side.”
Notably, Sarfraz had come up with a public apology on social media after facing a severe backlash from the cricket fraternity. Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar had also criticised the comments made by Sarfraz against Phehlukwayo.
Sarfraz also posted a photo of himself with Phehlukwayo and revealed he had personally apologised to the South Africa all-rounder. He also claimed that Phehlukwayo had accepted his apology.
There were no indications of action from the ICC until Sunday as the news of a possible ban began to leak only after Sarfraz failed to walk out for the toss during the fourth ODI between Pakistan and South Africa in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Speaking at the toss, stand-in captain Shoaib Malik had said: “We wanted him, but the incident … we all know what has happened. I don’t want to comment on it. But they’ve given me this opportunity, and I want to do my best.”