ICC match referee Andy Pycroft may be pressed into action once more after South Africa captain Faf du Plessis bumped his shoulder into England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler during a heated on-field exchange involving several England fielders.
The incident occurred after the 57th over of South Africa’s second innings at The Wanderers, with du Plessis first walking at and coming into contact with Buttler before waving a finger at Stuart Broad. Du Plessis was heard saying “don’t call me that” on the stump microphone, though in response to what is unclear.
Du Plessis and England captain Joe Root then exchanged words before umpire Joel Wilson stepped in and the teams resumed their respective positions. Du Plessis was then bowled by the first ball of the 59th over.
— Thabiso Mazibuko (@therealThabiso1) January 27, 2020
He is not the first South African to have been irked by Buttler in an increasingly ill-tempered series. The England keeper received an ICC sanction for calling Vernon Philander a “f***ing k***head” in England’s second Test victory at Cape Town, and Philander received a similar punishment for his send-off of Buttler in the first innings of the ongoing Johannesburg Test.
Kagiso Rabada and Ben Stokes have also been found guilty of Level 1 breaches of the ICC code of conduct this series for their actions after taking and losing wickets respectively, and du Plessis may be found to have committed a similar level of offence. Article 2.12 of the code of conduct covers “inappropriate physical contact with a player”, and states: “Without limitation, players will breach this regulation if they deliberately, recklessly and/or negligently walk or run into or shoulder another player”.
There was disagreement in the commentary box over how the incident started, which could influence the level of breach du Plessis might be charged with, and whether any England players find themselves in trouble as well. “The problem is Pommie [Mbangwa], Faf initiated that conversation,” said SuperSport commentator Shaun Pollock as replays of the incident were shown.
“I think there’s a response to something,” said Pommie Mbangwa. “He’s not just gone off from the crease and decided, ‘right, I’m going at these lot’. They have said something, which is normal, things will be said.”