Yorkshire leader Lord Patel has outlined the “phenomenally racist” letters he has received since Azeem Rafiq’s shocking allegations of racial harassment and bullying during his time in the county.
On the day Test cricket returned to Headingley for the first time since the racism scandal that ravaged the county last September, Patel said Yorkshire would have gone broke if England had not played at Leeds again.
Yorkshire and “a number of people” were charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board last week after an inquiry into Rafiq’s allegations of racism and the club’s handling of those allegations.
Rafiq said he was one step closer to “closing” after those allegations were made and called for the disciplinary hearings to be held in public.
The former spinner is understood to be planning to attend a stage of the third LV = Insurance Test between England and New Zealand at the invitation of Yorkshire.
Asked if he had received racist letters, Patel told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special: “Phenomenal racist. We have a very small but very vocal group of people who do not accept that racism has taken place in this club. I think we need to move beyond this denial. Racism happens in society. It certainly happened at this club.
“Ninety to 95 percent of the members and people I meet on the street and on the train have thanked you for what you do and have been extremely supportive.
“In every walk of life I have a small but sizable bag of letters that I believe people would be prosecuted for if I took them to the police.
“We know there is misogyny, discrimination, power imbalances and these things happen. Bad things happened here. There are some people, for whatever reason, and I don’t go into them. It affected our life and made it very difficult for us.
“It is not about me. It’s about all the employees who work tirelessly here and have been in the spotlight for a year and a half and been abused for a year and a half – some physically, some verbally.
“It’s them and their families and the players. We had to change for the better and I really believe we are doing that. They (the ECB) wanted absolute proof that we had set things in motion that we would change and move.
“If we didn’t have that, they would have to do what they do as a governing body. We had to fight really hard to get it back.”
Yorkshire, which had lost several major sponsors in the wake of the furore, was banned from hosting lucrative international games in November pending government changes.
Those changes came in March this year but Patel said the aftermath of losing Test Cricket didn’t “really resonate” with him until his actual return to Headingley on Thursday.
He said: “Until I actually went in and saw the floor, it didn’t register. To be perfectly honest, looking back at November, it seemed like a very distant opportunity.
“It seemed a bit like a pipe dream. When I got the job, I was determined to make it happen. I thought it would run a lot smoother than it did. It was way, way harder.”
Asked if Yorkshire would have gone bust without Test Cricket, Patel replied: “In simple terms, yes. I think we would have. I don’t think people realized it.
“Because of that panic situation and the spotlight, people didn’t pay much attention to the fact that if friendly matches or internationals didn’t come back here, we would actually go bankrupt. We were literally.
“What were you going to do – fire all the staff and players and try to come back in a couple of years when all your sponsors are gone? That wasn’t realistic.
“But at the same time, all of these groups needed to feel comfortable and confident that we were going to make seismic changes to get here. It was a real balance.”
Patel also addressed the claim by T20 captain David Willey, who is leaving for Northamptonshire at the end of the season, that Yorkshire had prioritized repairing their reputation over cricket, saying: “We have done nothing but prioritize our players. “