Azeem Rafiq: Floodgates will open now to reveal scale of racism in cricket

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Azeem Rafiq: Floodgates will open now to reveal scale of racism in cricket
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Azeem Rafiq says yesterday’s hearing before the DCMS Select Committee has left him feeling closure and vindication after years of pain and struggle, but believes the “floodgates” are about to open over the full extent of racism in cricket.

Rafiq, 30, spoke with Parliamentary privilege before the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Select Committee yesterday, along with former Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton and a delegation from the ECB, led by chief executive Tom Harrison.

On a painful day for the game, Rafiq was able to lay bare his experience for the first time, with allegations against a number of high-profile figures in the sport. Some have apologised (such as Tim Bresnan) and some have denied (such as Michael Vaughan). Others have been silent (such as Matthew Hoggard and Alex Hales), although Rafiq noted that Hoggard apologised to him in 2020.

For Rafiq, it was a day of pride and vindication as he shared his story.

“I was never going to give up,” he told Sky Sports News. “I was very confident in my truth and what had happened. It was important not just for me and my closure but all future kids that I carried on shouting from the rooftops through those winter nights when nobody was listening. I feel after yesterday people are listening.”

Rafiq believes that there could be “hundreds and thousands” more people coming forward to share their experience.

“I do feel now it’s going to be a little bit of floodgates and a lot of victims of abuse are going to come forward and we need to listen to them, hear them, support them and work out a plan to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “I think you’re going to get it [complaints] into the hundreds and thousands, possibly, and I think it’s the way they handle it. We’ve got here because of Yorkshire’s handling of this.”

Rafiq believes that there is a way back for Gary Ballance, who was the subject of many of his allegations, in the game, but that coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon should not be able to run teams again.

Azeem Rafiq became emotional during his evidence (House of Commons/PA) (PA Media)
Azeem Rafiq became emotional during his evidence (House of Commons/PA) (PA Media)

“They need to hear from me the effect their behaviour left me in and I’d like to hear from them why, why they felt that was all right. But it’s important we don’t go to individuals and think about the institution, because these guys came into this place and were shaped by the culture and the environment,” he said.

“I don’t think Martyn and Andrew can [continue in their roles], I think Gary — if he apologises properly and has some sort of acceptance and accountability — he should be allowed to play.

“But in terms of Andrew and Martyn, I don’t think it’s possible for Yorkshire to move forward with them still in there knowing full well what sort of role they played in that institution.”

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