Yorkshire County Cricket Club has been suspended from hosting Tests and other major matches until it has “clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue” in response to the club’s handling of the Azeem Rafiq racism case.
On the day more sponsors deserted the beleaguered club, the England and Wales Cricket Board convened to discuss what has fast become an escalating crisis and admitted the “abhorrent” matter is “causing serious damage” to the reputation of the game.
In a damning verdict following an unscheduled meeting, the ECB stated: “The YCCC’s handling of the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq is wholly unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game. The ECB find this matter abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values.”
The suspension covers Tests, one-day internationals and The Hundred, the ECB’s lucrative limited-overs competition.
The statement added: “As a governing body with duties to act for all in cricket, the ECB board reaffirmed its commitment to taking decisions in the best interests of the whole game. It also agreed that sanctions including, but not limited to, financial and future major match allocations may be considered at the conclusion of our investigations.”
The ECB also announced that it was taking immediate action in relation to Gary Ballance, the former England batsman who has admitted using racist and offensive language to Rafiq, adding: “While Mr Ballance has not been selected to play for England since 2017, he will be suspended indefinitely from selection. This position will be reviewed following the ECB regulatory investigation into his conduct.”