When Azeem Rafiq first went on the record in August last year with his claims that he had been subjected to racist treatment at Yorkshire cricket club, the wider world paid little attention. As a promising young player whose career had ended early, few outside of the sport knew who he was – and the club initially offered no comment, and then launched an independent investigation that took almost a year to report back.
Since then, the story has blown up – in part because of the club’s refusal to release the report’s findings. While Yorkshire offered him “profound apologies” in August this year, Rafiq said he believed its statement that he was the “victim of inappropriate behaviour” and refusal to discipline any member of staff was inadequate.
Then it emerged that the report said Rafiq was the victim of “racial harassment and bullying” – but the club still failed to send him the full text despite being ordered to do so by a judge. More details emerged – from the fact that the use of the P-word had been described in the report as “banter” to an apology from the Yorkshire player Gary Ballance, who admitted he had used that term but added that he “never said anything with any intended malice”.
Then the former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote in his Daily Telegraph column that he had been accused of making racist remarks to Rafiq and a group of other players, but strongly denied the claims – only for two others who were present to corroborate Rafiq’s version of events. On Monday, Vaughan reiterated his denial.
After all that, and with the resignation of senior staff at the club and the appointment of a new chairman, Kamlesh Patel, the story has moved firmly to the top of the agenda – and on Tuesday, Rafiq will give evidence to a committee of MPs examining the crisis that has engulfed Yorkshire. And now, everybody’s listening.
In this episode, Nosheen Iqbal speaks to Taha Hashim, the Wisden journalist whose interview with Rafiq started the chain of events that led to this point. And we hear from Tony Bowry, a stalwart of Yorkshire community cricket and former cultural diversity officer with the county, who alleges that racism – both subtle and explicit – was a part of life for players from ethnic-minority backgrounds at the club.
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