Ben Stokes has escaped a ban from the ICC after pleading guilty to a level one offence for breaching the ICC code of conduct during the first day’s play of the fourth Test between South Africa and England at The Wanderers.
As Stokes walked off the field upon his dismissal to Anrich Nortje during England’s first innings, he was shown launching a verbal volley at a spectator not captured by the television camera. The all-rounder was heard shouting: “come and say that to me outside the ground you f***ing four-eyed c***.” While what prompted the outburst wasn’t heard on-air, it is reported that the spectator in question told Stokes he looked like the singer Ed Sheeran.
Stokes has since apologised on Twitter for his actions. “I shouldn’t have reacted in that way,” he said. “I admit that my language was unprofessional, and I sincerely apologise for the language I used.”
He admitted to breaching article 2.3 of the code of conduct: ‘Use of audible obscenity during an international match’. A level one offence, it can be punished with a fine of up to 50 per cent of a player’s match fee and one or two demerit points.
Stokes has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee and been handed one demerit point. It is the first demerit point he has received in the last 24 months and as such Stokes will be free to play a full part in England’s white-ball series against South Africa.
He has escaped the more serious charge of breaching article 2.17, which covers the “threat of assault on another player, player support personnel, umpire or match referee or any other person (including a spectator) during an international match”. Had Stokes been found guilty of this level three offence, he would have been handed five or six demerit points and suffered a suspension of either one Test or two limited-overs matches.