Yorkshire County Cricket Club has appointed prominent figures in the British-Asian cricket community to lead a sub-committee which will investigate recent claims of institutionalised racism made by former player Azeem Rafiq.
Rafiq revealed that he received “years of racist abuse” whilst at Yorkshire CCC leading him to consider taking his life whilst playing for the club.
The 29-year-old, who retired from all forms of cricket in 2018, explained how he reported the incidents to senior figures at Yorkshire before he left the club.
Rafiq was part of Yorkshire CCC since the age of 11 and joined the club shortly after he and his family moved to England from Pakistan. Rafiq represented the club for ten years and captained Yorkshire’s T20 side.
Yorkshire CCC have since launched formal investigations into Rafiq’s allegations while a review of the club’s culture and policies is being reviewed by Leeds based law firm, Squire Patton Boggs.
The Yorkshire sub-committee will be chaired by Dr Samir Pathak, a trustee of the MCC Foundation, an academic clinical lecturer at the University of Bristol and former England universities cricket player.
Speaking on his role as chair of the sub-committee, Samir Pathak said: “Being of British-Indian heritage and having been born in Yorkshire, it is an honour to chair this sub-committee which will review the serious grievances raised.
“There is a need for all organisations to be diverse and inclusive. My heritage means that I have a deep-rooted interest in equality within sport and society, and I aim to be as impartial as possible throughout this fair and independent investigation.”
Gulfraz Riaz, chair of the National Asian Cricket Council (NACC), has been co-opted on to the sub-committee and Hanif Malik OBE, an independent director at Yorkshire CCC, will also be part of the panel.
The sub-committee will conduct interviews with past and present players and staff of the club, no time frame has been set for their findings to be presented.
The response from Yorkshire CCC to set up the sub-committee follows a statement from Yorkshire CCC Chair Roger Hutton last week who stated, “sport, including cricket and Yorkshire as a club, must do better to fully promote a culture of zero tolerance to racism or any form of prejudice.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) also responded to Rafiq’s comments last week and acknowledged “how much work is needed” to stop racism in sport. The ECB’s statement read: “We are deeply troubled to hear of Azeem Rafiq’s experiences and recognise the courage it has taken for him to speak out.
“The ECB welcomes Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s commitment to thoroughly and urgently investigate this case and the wider review of club policies and culture. We will follow these closely and are in contact with the club and with Azeem. We will consider any further ECB steps which may be appropriate.
“Azeem’s story is similar to some of the experiences we have heard about during the Black Lives Matter movement and demonstrates how much work is needed across the game, sport and society as a whole to eradicate racism.”