Yorkshire racism crisis – PCA to appear before Parliament in wake of Azeem Rafiq’s ‘inept’ claims



Fourth appearance for cricket at DCMS hearing in as many months

The Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) has been called to give evidence next week to the parliamentary select committee looking into allegations of institutional racism in English cricket.

The session, which is due to take place on Tuesday, comes in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s emotional testimony to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee in November, in which he laid bare his experiences as a Yorkshire player between 2008 and 2017, and claimed that, ultimately, “he had lost his career to racism”.

In the course of that evidence, Rafiq also pointed the finger at the PCA, accusing them of being “incredibly inept”, and adding that their response to his claims of suicidal feelings – later expressed in an interview with ESPNcricinfo – had been an exercise in “box-ticking”.

“The PCA kept telling me when the report comes out, they would support me,” Rafiq told the hearing. “Once it did, they said we have no powers, we can just push the ECB. An organisation that should have been there for me and supported me left me to fight on my own.”

The PCA is set to be represented by James Harris, the current Glamorgan allrounder who is also the union’s chair, alongside Anuj Dal, the vice-chair, Julian Metherell, the non-executive chair, and Rob Lynch, the chief executive. It will be the fourth time that representatives of English cricket, including the recreational game, will have appeared before the DCMS committee in as many months.

Last month’s appearance by county chairman was notable for the controversial claim, voiced by Middlesex’s chairman Mike O’Farrell, that Black people are more interested in football than cricket, and that Asian players put more focus on education than sport when they reach Academy level.

O’Farrell’s comments were widely condemned for perpetuating stereotypes, including by Rafiq and Ebony Rainford-Brent, the former England cricketer and founder of the African-Caribbean Engagement (ACE) Programme, which helps to address the 75% decline in participation in the Black community.

The situation at Yorkshire has escalated since the last DCMS hearing, amid allegations from Robin Smith, the former club chairman, that November’s appointment of Lord Kamlesh Patel as chair was unconstitutional. Following the cancellation this week of the club’s EGM, Lord Patel hit back, stating that Yorkshire’s bid to overturn its suspension from major-match status was at the mercy of individuals who believe the club is being “sacrificed on the altar of Black Lives Matter“.

Addressing the issue on Friday during a press briefing at Lord’s, Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, said: “We had a board meeting on Tuesday and a delegation came down from Yorkshire to give us a very comprehensive presentation on the progress that Lord Patel and his team have made in the very short time that they have been in charge of YCCC.

“The only reflection I would have on the stuff overnight – and believe it or not I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at it because there’s been a few other things going on – but I would just reflect on a broader note that any suggestion that there is not a problem with racism in Yorkshire is a cause for great concern.”


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