Glenn Maxwell, the Australia allrounder, has admitted his apparent snub to Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed following Pakistan’s victory in the triangular series final in Harare appeared to be an “unsportsmanlike” gesture, though he maintained it was a “genuine oversight”.
Television cameras captured the moments after Pakistan secured their six-wicket victory, which showed Maxwell congratulating Shoaib Malik then also shaking hands with Jhye Richardson and the umpires but seemingly ignoring the outstretched hand of Sarfraz on his right. After numerous media reports froze the moment in time and questioned Maxwell’s intentions, the Victorian delivered his version of events on Twitter.
“Congrats to Pakistan on their win yesterday, Fakhar Zaman and Shoaib Malik were unstoppable! Sad note to end our tour of Zimbabwe, but still plenty of positives to take out of it,” he wrote. “In regards to the incident shown post match, it appears unsportsmanlike, and certainly not the way I play the game.
“It was a genuine oversight on my behalf and I’m currently looking for Sarfraz in the hotel to shake his hand and congratulate him and his team for their series win #wellplayed.”
It is believed that Maxwell and Sarfraz were involved in numerous verbal exchanges during the course of Pakistan’s victory, namely when the captain was batting during a successful chase. More contentiously, there is also the suggestion that the pair exchanged words after the game had been completed and Sarfraz ran onto the field, in advance of his team-mates, to celebrate with the unbeaten batsmen.
Since the Newlands ball-tampering scandal in March, the image and conduct of the Australian team has been a source of enormous debate both within Australia and around the world. Cricket Australia has commissioned two separate reviews, both of the men’s team and the culture of CA more generally, to investigate.
In the aftermath of Cape Town and the bans imposed on Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, the new captain Tim Paine instigated a custom – borrowed from football – of ensuring players on both sides shook hands before as well as after a match.
This was done both at the start of the final South Africa Test in Johannesburg and then the beginning of the five-match ODI series in England. However, it did not feature when Australia, led this time by Aaron Finch, began the Twenty20 triangular series in Zimbabwe with a match against Pakistan.
The coach Justin Langer has spoken of the clear difference between “banter” and “abuse”, with Paine’s line to the England opener Jason Roy during the Old Trafford ODI – “you think you’ve won the World Cup already, don’t ya?” – touted as an example. At the recent ICC annual conference in Dublin, the game’s governing body introduced new code of conduct offences for swearing, personal abuse and cheating.
“Everyone talks about this word ‘sledging’, but there’s a difference between banter and abuse,” Langer said in London last month. “Abuse is no good – it doesn’t matter if you’re off the field or on the field, there’s no room for it ever. But there’s plenty of room for banter, or what we call sledging. It’s a fun part of the game!
“If I’m playing with my daughter, she wants to beat me big time, so we have a bit of banter, or what we call sledging. She’s pretty good at it, all Australians are good at it, we take it so seriously, but that’s okay. I never abuse her, and if she abuses me … there’s trouble you know!”
Sarfraz has his own history of sharp words on the field, being heard telling the New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill to “f*** off” when he interjected into a discussion between Sarfraz and the umpires about the shape of the ball during a T20I in Mount Maunganui in January.