Sports

South African cricket officials forced to apologise for Sonny Bill masks

South African cricket officials forced to apologise for Sonny Bill masks

"On behalf of CSA, I extend my honest apologies to the board of Cricket Australia (CA), its officials, team management, players and their families", the CSA said in a statement, "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 photograph, taken on the first day of the second test in Port Elizabeth on Friday, shows Cricket South Africa's commercial and marketing head, Clive Eksteen, and communications head Altaaf Kazi standing and smiling with three men wearing masks with the face of New Zealand rugby global Sonny Bill Williams.

Warner's wife, Candice, was photographed in a compromising position with rugby star Williams in a Sydney toilet cubicle in 2007, and the Aussie star is not popular in South Africa after his high-profile clash with Proteas wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock during the first Test.

"CSA has taken immediate precautionary steps against the officials allegedly involved in this incident", the statement read.

Sports Sunday panellist and netball legend Liz Ellis has slammed the behaviour of South African cricket fans against Candice Warner.

There have been repercussions for Nathan Lyon and Kagiso Rabada, a foul-mouthed dispute between De Kock and and Warner, ball tampering allegations, and now this. While the songs were not heard at St George's Park, the masks were seen but only after CSA officials had to intervene to allow mask-wearing fans into the stadium.

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Alerted on social media that the masks were going to be brought to the game on Friday, the Australians wanted security measures taken.

Clive Eksteen and Altaaf Khazi with the masked fans.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo shortly after the story broke last night, Kazi admitted it was "one of the worst judgment calls I have made", and expressed regret over his actions.

If they both do not go, then it is surely a sign that cricket is losing its class.

The photo shows Eksteen and Kazi smiling as they linked arms with three men who donned the masks in an oafish attempt to taunt Australia opening batsman David Warner during the second test.


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