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The PCB is disappointed by the ICC’s decision to suspend Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed for four matches, having hoped that its offer to voluntarily bench him as well as Sarfraz’s public apologies would have been enough of a resolution to the case.

Sarfraz issued two public apologies, the first apology on Twitter and then in person to Andile Phehlukwayo – the player who was the subject of his racist taunt at Kingsmead. In between, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said his side had forgiven Sarfraz.

A report on the incident was filed by the match referee Ranjan Madugalle and sent to the ICC last week, where the body’s general counsel Iain Higgins determined that Sarfraz did have a case to answer. There is an option in the Anti-Racism code for the case to be resolved through a process of conciliation but the ICC determined not to take it through that.

In 2016, Cricket Namibia had lodged a complaint under the code against Afghanistan. That was resolved through a conciliator but not until the end of June, whereas the incident took place in an Intercontinental Cup game in April – the time it would take to go through this process, a high-profile incident dragging on during a series and potentially beyond, was thought to have played a part in it not being used.

ALSO READ: Sarfraz Ahmed gets four-match suspension for racist comment

“The PCB notes the ICC decision on Sarfaraz Ahmed with its utmost disappointment,” a PCB statement said. “PCB had anticipated that the matter had been resolved amicably between the two players and the two boards following Sarafraz Ahmed’s public apologies, which were accepted by the player, the board and South Africa cricket team.”

The PCB is believed to have offered to step down Sarfraz for at least a couple of games voluntarily, as well as donating his match fees from games to suitable causes – under the Anti-Racism code, such an offer is acceptable if a conciliator is being used. That offer was rejected by the ICC.

The PCB’s disappointment is understood to emanate from this, that they effectively went through the procedures of a conciliation with CSA – albeit without an ICC conciliator – in the public and private apologies, as well as this voluntary suspension offer, and yet still had a sanction imposed upon Sarfraz by the ICC.

There is a degree of understanding that the ICC had to act and to be seen to impose a sanction – there has not been such a high-profile violation of the code in nearly a decade – as well as acknowledgment that a minimum sanction was imposed – the gravity of the offence being what it was. But there is also the question of why, if the ICC was determined to sanction Sarfraz, it took them close to five days to do so – days within which, publicly at least, it seemed as if an amicable resolution was being reached. The report reached the ICC last Wednesday and the gap allowed Sarfraz to play the third ODI in Cape Town – he was not sent a notice of charge until late Saturday evening.

“The PCB will be pursuing this matter at the ICC forums with the objective to bring reforms to the code, promoting amicable resolutions to issues as opposed to penalties,” the statement said. “Having said that, the PCB reiterates its zero-tolerance approach towards racist comments and behavior.”

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