Wales rugby legend Jonathan Davies has defended Ben Stokes after his foul-mouthed response to "repeated abuse from the crowd" during the opening day of England's fourth Test against South Africa.

Press Association report that several expletives were directed at the all-rounder - as well as a reference to popstar and fellow redhead Ed Sheeran - but only the cricketer's colourful riposte was picked up by the cameras.

As he walked off, Stokes was caught on television shouting to a fan off-camera: "Come and say it to me outside the ground, you f****** four-eyed c***." It now leaves him vulnerable to a charge under the International Cricket Council's code of conduct.

The controversial incident has provoked lots of debate about how the sportsman should have reacted, with former Wales international Davies one to defend Stokes in the face of abuse from fans.

The dual code rugby legend and high-profile broadcaster, known as 'Jiffy', wrote: "Why should any players accept abuse from fans?

"Totally support [Ben Stokes] shouldn’t be disciplined. Had plenty of abuse up north.

"Worse one was in Wales when supporter shouted 'hope your wife dies' while she was being treated for cancer. How do you ignore that!!"

He added: "Also had some great banter and sledging in both codes from players and supporters..."

Davies' first wife, Karen, was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died aged just 34, in June 1997, leaving Davies to bring up their children Scott, Grace and Geena, who were seven, three and one year old at the time.

Davies has since become a patron for Velindre Cancer Centre and has raised more than £26million for the facility across more than a decade. You can read more about that here.

Stokes, who was crowned Sports Personality of the Year in December, has already apologised for the incident.

He said in a statement on Friday: "I wish to apologise for my language that was heard on the live broadcast today after my dismissal. I should not have reacted in that way.

"As I was leaving the playing area, I was subjected to repeated abuse from the crowd. I admit that my reaction was unprofessional, and I sincerely apologise for the language I used, especially to the many young fans watching the live telecast around the world.

"Throughout the Tests so far, the support from both sets of fans has been brilliant. One incident will not ruin such a competitive series, which we are determined to win."

Match referee Andy Pycroft did not take action before England departed for the day but, having already punished Jos Buttler and Kagiso Rabada in the series, looks likely to do so.

Article 2.3 covers "the use of words commonly known and understood to be offensive, obscene and/or profane and which can be heard by the spectators and/or the viewing public".

Like Buttler, Stokes could expect one demerit point and a deduction on his match fee.

Ashley Giles, managing director of men's cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board, was in attendance at 'the Bullring' and said Stokes was not an isolated target.

"It is disappointing that a member of the public has gone out of their way to abuse Ben as he was leaving the field," said Giles.

"In addition to this incident, members of our support staff were subjected to personal abuse during and after the day's play.

"We have requested to the venue to ensure that security and stewarding are enhanced for the remainder of the match so that players' and staff members can go about their duties without provocation."