sarfraz ahmed
Sarfraz Ahmed (AFP Photo)

The storm surrounding Sarfraz Ahmed‘s racist remark refuses to settle down with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani calling the decision to suspend him as “utter nonsense”.

In wake of Sarfraz’s comments directed at South Africa allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo during an ODI in Durban, the International Cricket Council (ICC) imposed a four-match ban on the Pakistan captain.

Right after his comments drew a swift backlash from different quarters, Sarfraz apologised on social media before meeting Phehlukwayo in person.

So as far as we were concerned, an apology had been tendered and accepted and the only question was whether Sarfaraz deserved any punishment,” Mani told ESPNcricinfo. “I had already said we should pull Sarfaraz out for 2-3 games. I felt very strongly that this has to be a strong message for everyone.”

Almost four days after the incident, the ICC in a media release announced its decision stating it has “zero tolerance” towards such incidents.

“This is my issue that they [ICC] sat on it. Our statements and apologies were public. This is not something you brush under the table, it has to be dealt with openly and transparently. We did all of that. But because ICC couldn’t get the two players in a room together, they said let’s charge him. And that to my mind is utter nonsense,” he said.

Mani did accept the comment was distasteful and said the wicketkeeper-batsman will be spoken to about it. “Unfortunately, somewhere the message to the players has gotten missed, or it hasn’t sunk in, or too much time went by without further refreshing. It is a distasteful comment to make at any level. The sensitivity in South Africa is understandably very high and it was disappointing the captain made that comment – any player but the leader of the team more so.”

He added, “Obviously Sarfaraz will be spoken to. The whole team will be told that you have to be very careful. It is also a bit of a cultural issue – the word that he used, in Pakistan it would be ignored. That doesn’t mean the culture is right but the tone wasn’t in any way vicious or vindictive.”