Cricket’s stakeholders meet as racism crisis deepens

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Under-fire ECB chief executive Tom Harrison will lead a game-wide meeting at The Oval on Friday (Hollie Adams/PA) (PA Wire)
Under-fire ECB chief executive Tom Harrison will lead a game-wide meeting at The Oval on Friday (Hollie Adams/PA) (PA Wire)

A game-wide meeting will take place on Friday as cricket tries to get a grip on the racism scandal which has engulfed it this week.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston warned on Thursday the sport had to get its house in order in regard to discrimination and said the “nuclear option” was to introduce an independent regulator.

He said he had held talks with under-fire England and Wales Cricket Board boss Tom Harrison this week, and the game’s governing body will oversee a meeting at The Oval on Friday which had been scheduled before the crisis fully erupted this week, but will now be totally dominated by it.

The chairs of the 18 first-class counties will meet, joined by representatives of the 21 non-first class cricket boards, the national counties cricket association and the MCC, and it is understood there is some disquiet about the glacial pace and hands-off manner the scandal has been dealt with.

Azeem Rafiq gave harrowing testimony to MPs of prolonged abuse during two spells at Yorkshire on Tuesday.

He has now apologised himself over historic anti-Semitic messages he exchanged on social media with then Warwickshire player Ateeq Javid.

“I am incredibly angry at myself and I apologise to the Jewish community and everyone who is rightly offended by this,” Rafiq wrote on Twitter.

“At no point will I ever try and defend the indefensible. For those I have hurt I am sincerely sorry.”

Alex Hales has apologised for his “reckless and foolish behaviour” in painting his face black to attend a fancy dress party in 2009.

The former England batter, whose conduct is being investigated by the ECB and his county Nottinghamshire, was also named by Rafiq in his evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.

Rafiq said former Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance’s derogatory use of the word ‘Kevin’ to describe any person of colour was an open secret in the England dressing room and alleged that Hales had named his dog Kevin because it was black.

Hales categorically denied the allegation, which is also now the subject of a Nottinghamshire investigation.

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