Sunday, December 5, 2021

Rafiq’s scathing testimony could begin a winter of pain for English cricket if more tears up

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There may be even more sobering days ahead than those when Azeem Rafiq revealed the depth and breadth of the racism problem in Yorkshire

Rafiq’s harrowing and compelling testimony before a parliamentary special committee on Wednesday exposed the alleged institutional racism he has faced during his career in Yorkshire.

English cricket prepares for a winter of pain and upheaval as more players follow Azeem Rafiq to share their experiences of racism in sport.

However, as Rafiq noted, it is now clear that this is an issue that permeates the entire English game.

Zoheb Sharif and Maurice Chambers have already reached out to describe their experiences of alleged racism in Essex.

And during his questioning of MPs this week, Rafiq claimed he had spoken to players in Leicestershire, Middlesex and Nottinghamshire who had similar experiences.

The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) admitted at its cross-examination in Parliament on Wednesday that they expected an “explosion of complaints” in the coming weeks.

It comes after the Independent Commission on Equity in Cricket, a body set up by the ECB, launched a “call for evidence” last week via an online poll.

It turns out that since going live last Tuesday, over 1,000 people have signed up to share their experiences.

Many more are to come, and as painful as the testimony may be for anyone involved in cricket, it is a necessary process to go through if the sport is serious about change.

Rafiq, in an interview with Sky sports news admitted Wednesday, “I think you may get into the hundreds and thousands. I have the feeling that there will be a bit of ‘locks’ and that many victims of abuse will come forward. “

Whether the current ECB leadership, led by CEO Tom Harrison, are the right people to bring about the necessary change remains to be seen.

The board’s handling of the Yorkshire case, particularly the decision to allow the club to effectively investigate itself and participate in its report on Rafiq’s allegations for over a year, harmed Harrison.

Even more troublesome, this scandal highlighted a possible conflict of interest in the role of the ECB as the sponsor and regulator of the game – the reason they did not intervene earlier in the Yorkshire case.

When asked this week in Parliament who actually regulates the organization, the ECB admitted it was a self-appointed independent regulatory committee. This led to a strong response from members of the select committee of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), who described the arrangement as “the Wild West”, “appalling” and “open to abuse”.

It is something the ECB has been told by the committee, and the fact that they are now jointly investigating Sharif and Chambers’ allegations with Essex shows that they may have learned something from the Yorkshire scandal.

Political pressure on the ECB continues throughout the winter. Culture Minister Nadine Dorries and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston called on the ECB on Wednesday to take “strong and decisive measures” against racism.

The government has also threatened to intervene if it is not satisfied with it, a DCMS source said PoliticsHome: “It is clear that it is a bigger issue than just Yorkshire. The ECB must play a leading role in this. If they can’t or don’t want to, we step in. “

Another issue for the ECB is how this will affect England during their upcoming Ashes series in Australia after Rafiq spoke in Parliament about how “injured” he was that Test Captain Joe Root denied ever making racist comments in last week To have heard of Yorkshire.

Rafiq claims Root is a “good man” but it was “strange” that he couldn’t remember anything since he was around at night when he was routinely referred to as “P ** i”.

Less than three weeks before the first ash test in Brisbane, Root must fully address this issue in a press conference without restrictions.

It has to happen sooner rather than later, otherwise England’s players will be asked every step of the way about racism during their time in Australia.

Maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing for the wider game, but for England’s players it’s something they could do without on a job as busy as an Ashes tour.

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