‘Cricket still in denial’ says Rafiq after racism scandal

LONDON (Agencies): Azeem Rafiq claims cricket is still “in denial” over the racism scandal that forced the former Yorkshire spinner to leave England after he lifted the lid on abuse in the domestic game.

Rafiq appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday for the first time since November 2021 when he gave harrowing evidence about the racism he faced during his time at Yorkshire.

The 31-year-old used his latest appearance in front of the committee to highlight the abuse he and his family have endured since he blew the whistle.

“If I was to look at 13 months on from me opening my heart out, all that’s changed really is that me and my family have been driven out of the country. And that’s a sad element of it,” he said. Karachi-born Rafiq, who moved with his immediate family to Pakistan last month, recounted incidents of abuse to the committee, including a man defecating outside his parents’ house.

“I would love to come here and tell you how much cricket has changed, but unfortunately what it feels like is that cricket is very much in denial,” he said.

“There are still a group of people out there who feel like cricket is the victim in this. “The way I’ve been attacked and abused, why would you speak out? I’ve got a little hope in the new (ECB) leadership, but it’s very little at the minute.”

– ‘Nothing was done’ –

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) charged a number of individuals in relation to Rafiq’s allegations of abuse in June, along with Yorkshire for the county’s handling of those allegations.

However, the Cricket Discipline Commission has yet to hear the case after a dispute over whether it should take place in public or private.
Earlier in the DCMS hearing, Yorkshire chair Kamlesh Patel accused the former ECB leadership of failing to support him when he faced criticism over the reforms he led at the county. Patel took over at Yorkshire in November 2021 after the county had been stripped of hosting rights for international matches over their handling of Rafiq’s allegations.

Patel was tasked by the ECB with implementing governance reforms at Headingley in order to get the county back on track, but faced criticism from the club’s former leadership.

“If I was attacked in the press or if cricket leaders or previous cricket leaders made unsubstantiated statements, nothing was done,” Patel said.

“I have email after email, letter after letter, saying ‘you asked me to do this, I’ve done this, please support me’ and I have no response to any of those letters and emails. So it was very distressing. “I’m looking forward to the new leadership of Richard Thompson. The few meetings I’ve had with him have been positive and it feels like it’s going forward, but these last 12 months, the answer (to the question of whether he has felt supported by the ECB) has to be ‘no’.”