Calcutta: South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs was on Monday banned for two Test matches after being found guilty of breaching the International Cricket Council’s Code of Conduct during Day IV of the first Test against Pakistan in Centurion.
Gibbs was charged under Level 3.3 of the Code which prohibits using “Any language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person’s race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethic origin.”
According to a ICC media release, the charge, laid by ICC chief executive officer Malcolm Speed, related to an incident that took place shortly before the lunch interval on Sunday, when racist and abusive comments, aimed at Pakistanis, were overheard through a stump microphone on the ground.
Australia’s Darren Lehmann was the first cricketer to be suspended for racist comments when he was banned from playing for five one-day Internationals in January 2003. Lehmann was punished for his racist outburst during a match against Sri Lanka.
At the hearing, which was convened by Match Referee Chris Broad after South Africa’s victory on Monday, Gibbs apologised for the remark but pleaded not guilty to the Level 3 charge.
Gibbs maintained he was guilty of a Level 1 offence, clause 1.4 which refers to the use of “…language that is obscene, offensive or insulting and/or the making of an obscene gesture.”
Ironically, Gibbs himself is a coloured cricketer.
In finding Gibbs guilty of the Level 3 offence, Broad said: “I took into account the mitigating circumstances that the players were provoked by unruly spectators.
“However, the remark was racially offensive, the player admitted saying it and on that basis I am content that the level of the charge and the resulting punishment is appropriate.
“Cricket has zero tolerance of racism, as has been illustrated by the introduction of an amended ICC Anti-Racism Code last year, and this decision is an illustration of that fact.”
Players found guilty of a Level 2, 3 or 4 offence have a right of appeal. Such an appeal must be lodged in writing with the ICC’s legal counsel within 24 hours of the player receiving the original verdict.
The penalty for a Level 3 offence is a ban of between two and four Test matches or between four and eight ODIs.
The hearing was attended by Gibbs as well as South Africa team manager Goolam Raja and Gibbs’ teammates Mark Boucher, Paul Harris and Ashwell Prince.
Also at the hearing were Pakistan team manager Talit Ali, assistant manager Asad Mustafa and captain Inzamam-ul Haq, one of the batsman at the crease at the time the remarks were made.
Video evidence was used during the course of the hearing.
This ICC Code of Conduct hearing is not connected to the disciplinary hearing into the same incident announced by Cricket South Africa on Monday and set to be held on Tuesday. The hearing will be conducted by former judge Mervyn King.