Shahid Afridi will miss Pakistan's first two World Cup matches after being handed a four-match ODI ban for brandishing his bat at a spectator, during the first ODI against South Africa, at Centurion Park. Pakistan only have two more full internationals before their opening match in the Caribbean against West Indies.
The ruling was handed down by Chris Broad, the match referee, after the Pakistan squad arrived in Cape Town. Afridi was charged with a Level three offence under section C 2 of the Code which refers to "conduct unbecoming...which could bring (players or officials) or the game of cricket into disrepute."
The charge was laid by ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and relates to an incident which took place after Afridi was dismissed during the first match of the current series. As he walked up the steps TV pictures showed him push his bat towards a spectator after something had been said to the player.
After finding Afridi guilty Broad said: "I took into account what I considered to be the mitigating circumstances of a spectator in close proximity to the player shouting at him as he returned to the dressing room. I also spoke to the spectator in question ahead of the hearing to get his version of events.
"However, I found it impossible to escape the conclusion that Mr Afridi's actions were a clear threat to that spectator," he added, "and had that person not taken evasive action then the bat would almost certainly have hit him.
"Such an act is completely unacceptable and on that basis I found the player guilty of the Level three offence."
Broad also made a point about the circumstances in which the incident took place. "For the record, I do not believe spectators should be that close to the players or that they should feel they can shout whatever they like and think that is acceptable," he said. "That is a view I have expressed to Cricket South Africa."
A player found guilty under levels two, three or four has the right to appeal and has 24 hours to lodge it. However, Afridi decided not to appeal as that would have run the risk of all four matches of the ban being served during the World Cup.