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Azeem Rafiq racism report: Ten questions for Yorkshire

ESPNcricinfo looks at key areas where further work is required to improve relations between Yorkshire and the community

David Hopps
David Hopps
10-Sep-2021
Yorkshire have come under fire for refusing to release a report into racism allegations at the club  •  Getty Images

Yorkshire have come under fire for refusing to release a report into racism allegations at the club  •  Getty Images

In the wake of Yorkshire releasing a summary of findings from an independent panel's investigation into allegations of racism at the club, ESPNcricinfo looks at some of the areas where further work needs to be done to demonstrate a commitment to improving relations with minority groups in the community.
1 By your delayed or inadequate responses, and your media policy of silence, you have allowed Yorkshire to represent indefensible wrongdoing for millions of cricket followers. Your own county is split down the middle. You might well think that reaction is overdone. But why didn't you see this coming?
2 It is one thing to promise to review diversity and equality policies. It is another thing entirely to enact them with enthusiasm at all times. How will you ensure that happens? And while diversity training is potentially a good thing, what will you do about the perennial box-ticking problem of players daydreaming at the back of the room or the administrator who just goes through the motions?
3 Fair and open recruitment would also obviously be a positive step. Will that commitment be extended not just to employees but to every single age group side picked to play for Yorkshire and every group of players called up for consideration for those sides?
4 More 1st XI cricketers have emerged in the past few years from a single school in Cumbria - Sedbergh School - than from minority ethnic communities. No criticism of Sedbergh, they can be justly proud of their record. But are you, Yorkshire, as ashamed by the failure of your other development pathways as you should be?
5 Legal dangers of publishing the full report are real. But do you realise how damaging the delayed publication of these partial findings have been, how they have put back Yorkshire cricket half-a-century and how much they have destroyed the trust of so many?
6 Azeem Rafiq did not find all his complaints upheld. Not by any means. That much you have made clear. But do you accept that he challenged authority on behalf not just of himself but of others yet to follow, do you further recognise that if you respond with alacrity to the issues raised he can be a catalyst for real change, and that if that happens, he will have made a historic contribution?
7 Do you regret that the summary of the report sounds overly defensive and is it fair to wonder whether that is the result of many employees being primarily concerned about reputational damage to themselves as well as the club?
8 As the panel make clear by referencing the Stephen Lawrence Report, institutional racism can be defined by "unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping". By that definition, the summary of the report comes mightily close to suggesting that Yorkshire have been institutionally racist. So why conclude it is unproven? Is that an obvious cop-out?
9 Will you take up the challenge of changing attitudes across every corner of cricket in the county - involving schools, clubs, league officials and enforce changes to their own systems - and promote a zero-tolerance attitude to racism amongst all players and officials at all levels?
10 The redevelopment of Bradford Park Avenue to the point when it can stage county cricket again would be a factor in rebuilding trust in ethnic communities. What deadline have you set for adequate pavilion facilities to be provided so county matches can return?

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps