Herschelle Gibbs, the South African player was found guilty of a Level 3 offence when he uttered rascist comments in the 1st Cricket Test between South African and Pakistan. These comments were made between overs of the Test match and were picked up by the stump microphones.
No doubt there were some extraordinary mitigating circumstances. Gibbs and his team-mate, Paul Harris, were constantly nagged by a few of the Pakistan fans. Another team-mate, Makhaya Ntini, was knocked on the head. No doubt the said players were frustrated and provoked by the unruly spectators. However, the manner in which Gibbs chose to deal with the resulting frustration was unbecoming of an elite sportsperson. Period. What transpired was racially offensive. Gibbs admitted his guilt.
The reaction of Mikey Arthur, the South African coach was... shall we say... interesting. He blamed it on the stump microphones that picked up Gibbs's slur saying that the microphones were "too intrusuve"! Duh! I don't get it? Is Arthur saying that it is ok to pass on rascist slurs as long as they are not picked up by microphones?
While I found Gibbs's utterances terrible, I found Arthur's comments offensive. Gibbs had "heat of the moment" as a possible defence. Arthur must serve time too, for he was in the cold comfort of his team dressing room. Clearly, South Africa has someone rather dodgy at the helm!
Rascist slurs are bad. Period. They should not be tolerated. Period.
Cricket should have (and should be seen to have) "zero tolerance" for rascism.
The fact that this "intrusive microphones" chorus was also picked up by Herschelle Gibbs's father just goes to show that some people just haven't got it. The fact that the microphones picked up the slur does not absolve the player of guilt. It just proves it. The player is guilty. Period. And for that, he must do time.
Now, a Level 3 offence carries a punishment of either 4 Tests or 8 one-days. I wonder why Gibbs got away with a 2-Test ban? Is that because South Africa play only 2 Tests and no other games prior to the all-important World Cup in West Indies? This smacks of a convenience that sacrifices the games' integrity. I'm afraid Chris Broad, the match referee in this instance, has let the cricketing fraternity down. Again!
It is time that cricket stamped out rascism and the manner in which it handles bad behaviour. The starting point should be that it needs to get tougher on its Match Referees.