John Blain calls for Cricket Scotland inquiry after being cleared of racist behaviour

Retired Scotland seam bowler had been accused of making racial slur by former team-mates

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
John Blain, during his playing days in at the 2007 World Cup

John Blain, during his playing days in at the 2007 World Cup  •  Getty Images

John Blain, the former Scotland and Yorkshire fast bowler, has called for a "full and transparent inquiry" into the country's cricket authorities, after revealing that he was cleared of allegations of racist behaviour in January, only for Cricket Scotland and sportscotland to fail to make those findings public.
Blain, who played 118 matches across formats for Scotland, was accused by his former team-mates, Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh, of using a racist slur on a tour of Kenya in 2007, and was subsequently suspended from Cricket Scotland's Hall of Fame.
Blain's case was one of numerous referrals that stemmed from an independent review in July 2022 that found Cricket Scotland to be institutionally racist and led to the resignation of the board. However, following a year-long investigation - carried out jointly by two law firms and Sporting Equals, the race inclusion charity - the claim has been rejected, with ESPNcricinfo understanding that the vast majority of incidents cited will also have no case to answer.
On January 12, the interim Cricket Scotland CEO Pete Fitzboydon wrote to Blain to confirm that the allegations against him were "unfounded" and that no further action would be taken. At the time, Blain was asked to keep that judgment confidential, to enable the board to communicate the news to the complainers.
Now, however, after what he described as "five months of delay and prevarication", he has chosen to go public with a scathing critique of the process and his accusers. "To describe the way sportscotland and Cricket Scotland initially handled that report as a 'kangaroo court' is an insult to marsupials everywhere," Blain wrote in a post on X/Twitter.
"It's obvious to me that, rather than publish this very clear and detailed judgement which fully exonerates me, Cricket Scotland is once again running scared of the small "anti-racist" cabal which has exerted such a malign influence over our sport," he added. "My life has been on hold for too long and it's time that the truth is finally told about one of the biggest sporting scandals of recent times."
Addressing Majid and Qasim, whose testimony formed the basis of the damning 2022 report "Changing the Boundaries" that led to the charges being levelled, Blain expressed his disbelief that they would make "such false and disgraceful accusations" after he had given both men "considerable support during their careers".
"If he truly believed I was a racist, why did Majid try so hard to persuade me to join his club, Clydesdale, as professional player-coach in 2015, eight years after he claimed I'd used a racist word, and also recommended me to a string of Asian players for one-to-one coaching," Blain said.
"Likewise, if Qasim really believed I was a racist, why did he seek me out for one-to-one coaching in 2014 to help him regain his Scotland place - something I gladly did for free?"
Blain added that the inquiry's findings also called into question the legitimacy of his ECB sanction - a reprimand and £2500 fine imposed by the Cricket Discipline Commission in May 2023 following Azeem Rafiq's testimony about his treatment during his time at Yorkshire. Blain, along with five other former players at the club, refused to participate in a process that he described at the time as "irredeemably flawed".
Only Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, chose to appear at the CDC hearings, where he was subsequently cleared "on the balance of probabilities" of making a racist remark ahead of a Yorkshire T20 fixture in 2009.
"Crucially, the in-depth Scottish investigation did not accept Majid's allegation that I had used the P-word during a tour to Kenya in 2007," Blain said. "That's the exact same allegation the England and Wales Cricket Board panel used to support their finding against me.
"Majid's false allegation was used as corroboration of Azeem Rafiq's equally untrue allegation and was central to the ECB verdict against me, which must now be deemed unsafe.
"What's worse, the ECB tribunal stated that because I had not engaged with their flawed process, they were entitled to conclude that I had no answer to the allegations against me … their reasoning was lazy and made no attempt to reconcile Majid's account with the contradictory evidence of four other witnesses."
In response, an ECB spokesperson insisted that the CDC process had been "extensive and thorough", and that Blain had been given every opportunity to defend himself during the proceedings.
"The Cricket Discipline Commission upheld the charge against John Blain for using racist language at Yorkshire in or around 2010 and 2011 after considering all the evidence before it, including Mr Blain's defence and a number of supporting witness statements filed by him (through his then legal team) before he withdrew from the process. He declined the opportunity to appear before the commission to defend himself in person."
In a joint statement, Aamer Anwar, Majid's and Qasim's solicitor, expressed the pair's own frustrations at Cricket Scotland's handling of the issue, including the fact that many of the complainants referenced in Fitzboydon's letter to Blain still had not been informed of their outcomes, adding that they intended to go public with "the full facts" in the coming weeks.
Blain was further accused of continuing to "target and label" Majid and Qasim in his latest comments, with Anwar adding that the two men remained "victims of racism who continue to be abused, vilified and excluded for daring to speak out". However, he also called for a public inquiry into a governing body that "has once again let down the real victims, which include not just Majid and Qasim, but many other cricketers".
"Cricket Scotland hoped this matter would simply go away, it will not, as they will see in the coming days," the statement continued. "The one thing we can all agree with, is the need for the facts to be made public now. My clients have engaged in good faith in a process that has taken too long, and resulted in yet another case study for why Scottish cricket needs to accept institutional racism and put in place urgent changes to stop this happening again. The culture of denial remains rife and the dinosaurs are very much alive and well."
In a brief statement on Monday afternoon, Cricket Scotland said that it would continue to respect the independence of an investigation that it described as "complex, challenging and emotive", and promised to comment further at its conclusion.
"We will continue to respect that independent process, with the welfare of all involved as a priority, in order that we can reach a conclusion that enables our sport to move forward with unity," the statement continued. "We will comment further upon the conclusion of the independent investigative process, whilst continuing to offer support to all those involved."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket