England vice-captain Ben Stokes, who was named player of the year at 2019 ICC awards, has courted controversy by abusing a spectator after he was dismissed for mere 2 runs on the first day of the fourth and the final Test against South Africa. The all-rounder was caught on television responding to a fan in derogatory language for which he issued an apology thereafter. Stokes described his reaction as “unprofessional”.
Stokes, the outstanding player in a series in which England lead 2-1, stopped briefly as he left the field after being dismissed and appeared to challenge a spectator, who evidently insulted him after the player was out for 2 runs.
“Come say that to me outside the ground, you f***ing four-eyed c***," Stokes said, as captured in the television footage when he was about to climb the steps leading to the dressing room. Though the spectator's instigation is not audible on camera, witnesses have stated that a middle-aged male wearing a South Africa one-day shirt had walked more than 50 meters to abuse Stokes and took a jibe at him mentioning Ed Sheeran and calling him ginger-c***.
It remains to be seen if officials will take any action against Stokes, who was one of four batsmen dismissed as England closed with 192 runs on the board. In all probabilities, Stokes who has a clear disciplinary record with the ICC might be charged with the level one offense of using an “audible obscenity” giving him one demerit point with no ban. A ban is imposed after a player gets at least four demerit points. Or a harsh punishment would be to charge him with level three offense of “threat of assault on another player, player support personnel, umpire or match referee or any other person (including a spectator) during an international match.” A level three offense is liable for five to six demerit points which could impose a ban of either one Test or two white-ball matches. If the ban is imposed, then Stokes could miss the upcoming T20I series that concludes this tour.