Ben Stokes has been told he needs to hold his tongue in the face of provocation from the stands.
The England all-rounder appeared to use an expletive as he became embroiled in an angry exchange with a fan while he left the field during day one of the final Test with South Africa in Johannesburg.
Stokes, England’s premier player over the last year, was dismissed cheaply for only two just prior to the unsavoury incident, which quickly spread on social media.
“You have to hold your tongue if you can,” former England captain Mike Atherton told Sky Sports.
“It is a fruity area (next to the tunnel at the Wanderers). I recall a game when Merv Hughes got done in that tunnel area, it’s a hostile place, I don’t condone abuse, supporters or players.”
Another former England captain, Nasser Hussain, added Stokes – the current BBC Sports Personality of the Year – needed to realise no good could come of becoming involved with fans.
“We can be cool and calm in the commentary box, but when you’ve just got out and someone is abusing you, you can lose the plot,” he said. “Everyone wants a piece of Ben Stokes, fans go up to him in hotels and airports, everyone wants a piece. Then you see the bad side, a South Africa fan will have a go, it’s part of the game and you have to suck it up.
“It’s easy for us to say, he probably regrets it now, he’s going to have to bite his tongue.”
It is likely the incident will be looked at by the match referee under the International Cricket Council’s disciplinary code.