Accepting his “mistake” after being banned for his racial remarks against a “black” South African cricketer, banned Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed on Tuesday said that he has learnt a lesson from the unsavoury episode.
Soon after returning from South Africa, Sarfaraz has said that he has realised his mistake and that is why he had immediately apologised publicly after the episode.
“It was a mistake and I have learnt from it,” Sarfraz told reporters.
Sarfaraz, who is Pakistan’s permanent captain in all three formats, has been forced to return home after the ICC had imposed a four-match ban on him for making racially motivated comments about Andile Phehlukwayo during the third ODI in Durban.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was quick to express its utter disappointment about the ICC’s decision to ban Sarfaraz, noting that he had apologised immediately for his remarks to the South African team and also went and met with Phehlukwayo and expressed regrets to him.
Sarfraz thanked PCB for its support but his supporters raised slogans against the ICC for the ban soon after his forced return to the country.
“I am thankful to the PCB for the way they have handled this case,” Sarfaraz said.
“I also accept the ICC decision to ban me for four matches and for me that issue is closed but I will do whatever the PCB tells me to do,” he added.
Sarfaraz had returned home from South Africa to a rousing and emotional welcome from his supporters.
Around a 100 people holding banners and placards in favour of Sarfaraz and against the ICC were at the Karachi airport to greet him when he came out of the terminal building.
Slogans were raised in his favour with some shouting loudly that Sarfaraz is the permanent captain of the team and no one should think about removing him.
Pakistan will still have the third and final T20 international to play against South Africa on February 6 after the ban on Sarfaraz ends, but the PCB has called him back and appointed veteran Shoaib Malik to lead the team in his absence.
Malik led the team to victory in the fourth ODI to level the five-match ODI series at 2-2 with the decider to be played on Wednesday.
Speculations are rife in Pakistan cricket that if Malik manages to win the ODI and T20 series, he could well be considered to lead Pakistan in the ICC World Cup in England, something which has greatly upset the supporters of Sarfaraz.
“I have no issues with the PCB decision to call me back. In a way I see it as a good chance to get some rest and prepare for the coming Pakistan Super League as I have been playing non-stop cricket for around five months now,” Sarfraz said.
Asked about comments made by former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar about him after the incident, Sarfaraz said what Akhtar had said had nothing to do with cricket and it was a personal attack.
“That is all I want to say,” he said when asked again about the matter.
The PCB has kept quiet about the future of Sarfaraz as captain but an official noted that it was the policy of the board to appoint the skipper on a series-to-series basis.