Ben Stokes escaped a suspension for verbally abusing a spectator at the Wanderers and has instead been fined 15 per cent of his match fee and handed one disciplinary point on his record.
Match referee Andy Pycroft fined Stokes around £2,250 and placed one demerit point on his record. Reaching four points over a two-year period results in a one-match ban.
Stokes pleaded guilty to a level-one charge for uttering an “audible obscenity” when he told a supporter “come and say that to me outside the ground you f****** four-eyed c***”.
The fan ran down from the top of the stand and abused Stokes when he was dismissed for two in England’s first innings. It is understood he swore and abused him for his ginger hair, comparing him to singer Ed Sheeran.
Stokes could have been hit with a more severe level-three charge of threatening behaviour which can be punished by a suspension, but he escaped with the much minor charge.
He also issued an apology on Friday night accepting his conduct was not acceptable which will have helped his case. Ashley Giles, the England team director, also called for extra security near the players’ tunnel after a number of England backroom staff reported being abused verbally during the first day’s play of the fourth Test.
Giles requested extra security at the Wanderers on Friday night after a number of England’s backroom team reported they were verbally abused on day one. It brought an angry response from officials at the ground who denied there was any problem with security at the players’ tunnel and believe there is sufficient stewarding in place.
“The stadium is not aware of this request and we also feel that the currently deployed security numbers is sufficient,” said Reuben Niekerk, venue operations manager at the Wanderers. “Throwing additional numbers to a problem is not the solution. As initially done prior to the start of this Test, we have again reiterated to the field of play security (and other sensitive areas) to be more proactive in identifying spectators comments when players are in and around their respective areas (that’s fielding on the boundary close to them or entering and exiting the field).
“In addition to this, the England Team Security consisting of two guys have agreed to ensure that at any given time at least one of them will be down at the dug-out/tunnel entrance from field to closely monitor any comments from the spectators.”