Ben Stokes involved in verbal altercation with fan in Johannesburg
England all-rounder could face displinary ation after incident on first day of fourth Test
Ben Stokes was dismissed for just two on the opening day at The Wanderers. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty
Fourth Test day one: England 192-4 off 54.2 overs (Z Crawley 66, D Sibley 44, V Philander 1-37)
England all-rounder Ben Stokes could face disciplinary action after he was involved in a foul-mouthed altercation with a fan on the first day of the fourth Test against South Africa.
As he was walking off, having been dismissed for two, the player was caught on television coverage responding to a fan off-camera, shouting: “Come and say it to me outside the ground you fucking four-eyed c**t.”
It was not audible on camera what the spectator said to Stokes but other witnesses in the area suggested to the Guardian that a middle-aged male fan had abused Stokes and referenced the singer Ed Sheeran.
After footage was broadcast, the former England captain Mike Atherton told Sky Sports of the walk off the field at the Wanderers: “You’ve got to hold your tongue if you can. It is a fruity area.”
Stokes was caught by Rassie van der Dussen, off the bowling of Anrich Nortje, leaving England 157-4. England advanced to 192 without further loss before bad light stopped play.
After the close of play, Stokes was subsequently pictured signing autographs by the same tunnel where the incident took place.
He was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December 2019 after a summer of batting efforts during both the World Cup and the Ashes. Coincidentally, Sheeran, who the BBC described as Stokes’ biggest fan in its promotional tweet, announced the cricketer’s Spoty nomination.
Stokes could expect to face a charge of using an “audible obscenity during an international match” which is a level one offence although it is understood that the International Cricket Council are unlikely to comment on the issue until late on Friday or possibly not until Saturday.
England’s wicketkeeper Jos Buttler apologised after the second Test in Cape Town for calling South Africa’s Vernon Philander a “fucking knobhead” while Philander was batting. He was fined 15 per cent of his match fee and handed one demerit point.
After the Stokes footage was broadcast, the former England captain Mike Atherton told Sky Sports of the walk off the field at the Wanderers: “You’ve got to hold your tongue if you can. It is a fruity area [next to the tunnel]. I recall a game when Merv Hughes got done in that tunnel area, it’s a hostile place, I don’t condone abuse, supporters or players.”
Atherton’s colleague Nasser Hussain, also a former England captain, told Sky: “We can be cool and calm in the commentary box, but when you’ve just got out and someone is abusing you, you can lose the plot,” he said. “Everyone wants a piece of Ben Stokes, fans go up to him in hotels and airports, everyone wants a piece. Then you see the bad side, a South Africa fan will have a go, it’s part of the game and you have to suck it up.
“It’s easy for us to say, he probably regrets it now, he’s going to have to bite his tongue.” - Guardian