The ICC has dismissed the criticism that its decision not to take action against Shahid Afridi for an altercation with a spectator during the first one-day international at Centurion was prompted by fears of provoking the Pakistan fans. Afridi seemed to strike out at a fan after being dismissed in the game, and the act was caught on television. However, with none of the match officials reporting the matter, Afridi is unlikely to be pulled up.
"The ICC Code of Conduct says the four umpires, the team managers and the CEO of the home board can all lay a charge, but they must do so within 18 hours of the end of the match. The fact of the matter is none of these people did so," Brian Murgatroyd, the ICC media and communications manager, was quoted on saying by the Supercricket website. "Any decisions that are taken by ICC officials are made on the merits or otherwise of each individual situation and to suggest otherwise is misguided. I resent any implication that the ICC is biased or that we refuse to act because we want to maintain good relations with Pakistan and are afraid of antagonising them."
The incident, and the manner in which it was handled, has prompted comparisons with the action taken against Herschelle Gibbs for using offensive language in describing a section of the crowd to his team-mates during the Test at the same venue. The stump microphones picked up the comments and Gibbs was banned for three matches after Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, laid the charges against him. Murgatroyd explained that Speed, who is in the West Indies to oversee preparations for the World Cup, had chosen not to press charges this time.
"Malcolm Speed laid the charge against Gibbs because he felt it was appropriate to do so. If he had not done so then we were given to understand the Pakistan team manager would have acted instead," Murgatroyd said. "In the Afridi case, none of the other parties able to lay a charge chose to do so. Malcolm has five days to act and lay a charge if he deems it appropriate, and in all matters he reserves the right to do so." According to some reports, Chris Broad, the match referee, had an informal meeting with Afridi and Talat Ali, the Pakistan team manager, but apart from a rap over the knuckles, there is likely to be no further action.