09 Sep

Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has appointed a sub-committee including prominent figures in the British-Asian cricket community, as it launches its review into allegations of institutional racism from their former player Azeem Rafiq.

Dr Samir Pathak, a Trustee of the MCC Foundation, has been co-opted as chair, while Gulfraz Riaz, the chairman of the National Asian Cricket Council (NACC) has also been invited to serve, along with Stephen Willis, Chief Financial Officer at Durham University, and Hanif Malik OBE, a former Non-Executive Director at Sport England.

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo on September 2, Rafiq - now aged 29 and pursuing a career away from the game - told how his playing days with Yorkshire had left him "on the brink of suicide", adding that his concerns about a racist culture within the club had been "ignored", and that he had been released from his contract in the aftermath of a family tragedy.

In the wake of Rafiq's claims, 120 Yorkshire-based Asian businesses have written an open letter to the club, expressing their concern over the handling of the allegations and strongly requesting justice and equality.

"Cricket is synonymous with both English and South Asian culture," wrote British Asians Against Racism on change.org. "Our shared love of the sport is something which should unite our communities. It should never create divisions between us. The Asian community has strong roots in Yorkshire ... however, with a fractured relationship, we fear both YCCC and young Asian cricketers will suffer adversely."

Commenting on his appointment as Chair, Dr 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. 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."

On behalf of the NACC, Mr Riaz added: "The National Asian Cricket Council is grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to what is an important review for Azeem, Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the game more broadly.

"In the first instance, it will be crucial to understand the precise nature of Azeem's grievances and to ensure that following a thorough and transparent review, a suitable outcome is reached.

"Beyond that, the NACC looks forward to being able to contribute more holistically to recommendations that move us all closer to best practice. We feel strongly that cricket is a game for everyone."

John Stephenson


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