An apologetic Cricket South Africa is in damage control over a photograph showing two of its officials posing with fans wearing Sonny Bill Williams masks in Port Elizabeth.
An image emerged on Saturday of Clive Eksteen and Altaaf Kazi grinning with three supporters, who donned the masks in an oafish attempt to taunt David Warner during the second Test. Eksteen is CSA’s head of commercial and marketing, while Kazi is the body’s head of communications.
Both officials are under investigation for associating themselves with the unsavoury attempt to embarrass Warner and wife Candice, who had attended day one at St George’s Park with the couple’s two children.
“On behalf of CSA, I extend my sincere apologies to the board of Cricket Australia (CA), its officials, team management, players and their families,” CSA president Chris Nenzani said in a statement.
Candice had a tryst more than 10 years ago with Williams.
“CSA does not associate itself with these actions and urges all Protea supporters from refraining from being involved in distasteful or unwelcome actions that may impact the image of the sport and its supporters,” the sporting body said.
It was a remark from Quinton de Kock during the first Test about Warner’s wife that ignited a fit of rage, with the vice-captain later dubbing that comment “vile and disgusting”.
Cricket Australia is understood to be furious with the conduct of Eksteen and Kazi, stunned that officials would be OK with the low-brow actions of supporters. The masks were banned initially by venue security, but CSA overruled that order on Friday. The masks have since been banned again.
Meanwhile, South Africa are set to be without Kagiso Rabada for the third and fourth Tests, with the bowler charged after making contact with Steve Smith in Port Elizabeth.
There will be a hearing after play on day two, with Rabada to miss the rest of the series unless the Proteas successfully have the charge of “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” downgraded. A level-two charge results in at least three demerit points.
Repeat offender Rabada already has five points on his record, which is why he is likely to be an enforced omission for games in Cape Town and Johannesburg. South Africa are expected to argue Rabada’s contact with Smith, which came amid a spirited send-off in which he also screamed in the face of Australia’s captain, was not deliberate.