South Africa v England Tests - Men's
Stokes apologises for swearing at Proteas supporter
England allrounder broadcast swearing at a supporter after 'repeated abuse' at the Wanderers in Johannesburg
25 January 2020, 07:45 AM AEST
England star Ben Stokes has apologised for his angry exchange with a fan during the fourth and final Test against South Africa but claimed he was the victim of "repeated abuse".
Stokes described his reaction at the Wanderers as "unprofessional".
English cricket chiefs, however, claimed staff and players were subjected to "personal abuse during and after the day's play".
Stokes, the outstanding player in a series which England lead 2-1, stopped briefly before he walked through the famous player’s tunnel after being dismissed for just two and appeared to challenge a spectator, who evidently insulted him.
"Come say that to me outside the ground, you f*****g four-eyed c**t," Stokes said, according to television footage captured as he left the field and started to climb the steps leading to the dressing room.
A clip of the incident was immediately distributed on social media.
Witnesses told The Guardian newspaper that a middle-aged man, wearing a South Africa one-day cricket team shirt, had targeted Stokes, allegedly calling him a "ginger c**t" and likening him to pop star Ed Sheeran.
"I wish to apologise for my language that was heard on the live broadcast today after my dismissal. I should not have reacted in that way," Stokes said in a statement released on his Twitter account.
"As I was leaving the playing area, I was subjected to repeated abuse from the crowd. I admit that my reaction was unprofessional, and I sincerely apologise for the language I used, especially to the many young fans watching the live telecast around the world.
"Throughout the Tests so far, the support from both sets of fans (England and South Africa) has been brilliant. One incident will not ruin such a competitive series, which we are determined to win."
England allrounder Stokes could face disciplinary action for uttering an audible obscenity, which is a level one offence according to the International Cricket Council's code of conduct.
On the field, Zak Crawley's maiden Test half-century gave England a solid foundation before South Africa struck back late on a rain-shortened opening day.
England's youthful opening pair of Crawley (66) and Dom Sibley (39) shared their team's first century opening partnership since 2016 and blunted South Africa's fast bowlers on a pitch which both captains expected to be challenging for batsmen.
"It's nice to get us off to a good start and we're in a really good position," Crawley said after England finished the day on 4-192.
Crawley, 21, and Sibley, 24, put on 107 before Sibley was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock to give new cap Beuran Hendricks his first Test wicket.
South Africa claimed three more wickets to have England at a slightly precarious 4-157 but captain Joe Root and Ollie Pope took the tourists safely through to the close in deteriorating light.
Rain prevented any play before lunch and the South African bowling was surprisingly unthreatening when it did get under way.
Both teams opted for an all-seam attack on a pitch which usually favours fast bowlers but there was no discernible swing or sharp movement off the surface as England’s openers scored at better than three runs an over.
Crawley, in his fourth Test, batted confidently from the start and drove strongly off the front foot, although on 56, shortly before tea, he was hit on the helmet when he missed a pull against Anrich Nortje.
He made his runs off 112 balls and hit 11 fours before he provided Rassie van der Dussen with one of three catches at first slip, edging a ball from Vernon Philander which bounced more than usual.
Joe Denly was dropped twice before he was caught by van der Dussen off Dane Paterson for 27 and Stokes made only two before he played an extravagant drive against Anrich Nortje to give Van der Dussen his third catch.
South Africa v England 2019-20
First Test: South Africa won by 107 runs
Second Test: England won by 189 runs
Third Test: England won by an innings and 53 runs
Fourth Test: January 24-28, Johannesburg
First ODI: February 4, Cape Town (D/N)
Second ODI: February 7, Durban (D/N)
Third ODI: February 9, Johannesburg
First T20: February 12, East London
Second T20: February 14, Durban
Third T20: February 16, Centurion