The Azeem Rafiq testimony was one of the most important, powerful and harrowing events in recent sporting history.
A man who dreamed of a national sporting call up, an institution whose foundations are rotting, and a parliamentary group who let a man tell his truth with no apologies. But what are the takeaways from the Rafiq committee hearing?
We need to talk about Kevin
Rafiq spoke about former England batter and Yorkshire teammate Gary Ballance, who had previously admitted calling Rafiq a ‘P***’, adding further accusations against the Englishman.
“We were in a place and Gary walks over and goes, ‘Why are you talking to him? You know he’s a P***’.
“This happened in front of teammates. It happened in front of coaching staff.
“‘Kevin’ was something Gary used to describe anyone of colour in a very derogatory manner. It was an open secret in the England dressing room.
“Gary and Alex Hales [of Nottinghamshire] got really close to each other when they played for England.
“I wasn’t present in the dressing room, but what I understand (is) that Alex went on to name his dog ‘Kevin’ because it was black.Disgusting how much of a joke it was.”
The use of this term towards so many people, by an individual, has shed light on the scale of the racism problem now emerging within Yorkshire CCC – and England.
Rafiq Rooted in hurt
The abuse Rafiq endured was much wider reaching than abhorrent name calling. The bowler, who’s Muslim, recalled, as a 15-year-old, how he was pinned down and forced to drink wine at a local club by a player who would go on to play for Yorks and Hampshire.
Another Yorkshire player, Joe Root, also faced some scrutiny from Rafiq.
“Root is a good man. He never engaged in racist language.
“I found it [his comments] hurtful.
“He might not remember it, but it just shows how normal it was in that environment, that a good man like him can’t remember it.
“It was the norm, it’s not going to affect Joe, but it’s something I remember every day.”
Rafiq’s revelations raise questions surrounding the current England Test captain, who has been at the club since his youth – yet heard or saw nothing.
Rafiq name-checked Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Middlesex as clubs who have or have had players who have been racially abused.
Rafiq said: “I would like to see it as a progress that people are feeling like they can come forward and they are going to be heard and not just be discredited, smeared about, briefed about.”
Lord Patel of Bradford, the new chair of Yorkshire, has set up a whistleblower hotline for people to share their experiences.
It won’t solve racism in cricket and wider sport, but it will give an indication to how vastly spread the problem really is.
The Rafiq Committee
The select committee proved their worth yesterday. They allowed Rafiq to speak his truth and aimed to find accountable arguments to present throughout the hearing’s of Roger Hutton, ex-chairman of YCCC, and Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket board.
The committee were advised not to release the Yorkshire report into the public domain over fears of being sued.
That said, committee chair Julian Knight MP said it was for Yorkshire to publish the report, describing it as their “mess”, but said every word of Radiq’s written and verbal testimonies would be in the public domain.
Political and sporting scandals of late aside, this episode at least showed the platform select committees can provide people who need them.