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News

Yorkshire face race for Test reinstatement after latest delay to reforms

EGM called for March 14 is postponed due to administrative error

An anti-racism banner hangs outside Yorkshire's Headingley Stadium in Leeds, Headingley, November 5, 2021

An anti-racism banner hangs outside Yorkshire's Headingley Stadium in Leeds  •  AFP/Getty Images

Yorkshire's hopes of securing the return of international cricket to Headingley have encountered another setback, after the second postponement of an emergency general meeting called to ratify key governance changes at the club.
Yorkshire was stripped of its right to host the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley in June, as well as an ODI against South Africa in July, following revelations about a culture of institutional racism at the club - many of which came to light during Azeem Rafiq's emotional testimony before a parliamentary select committee in November.
The suspension - which Lord Kamlesh Patel, the chairman, had warned posed an existential threat to Yorkshire's finances - was provisionally lifted last month, on the proviso that Yorkshire rubber-stamped a series of governance changes by the end of March, including the removal of the influence of the family trust run by the former chairman, Colin Graves, which bailed out the club to the tune of approximately £15 million in the early 2000s.
However, the original attempt to hold the EGM fell through in February - which led to Patel accusing a group of members, including another former chairman, Robin Smith, of attempting to "delay and derail" the reforms - and now a second date, March 14, has also had to be cancelled, due to an administrative error.
According to an email sent by Yorkshire's secretary, Paul Hudson, "a technical issue within our historic database systems means that notice of the EGM may not have been sent to all members".
With a third date now set for March 31, this latest delay means Yorkshire have one last chance to hit its end-of-March deadline for meeting the ECB criteria for a return of international cricket, and Hudson warned the members that further delays would jeopardise the proposed return of the club's sponsors - most of whom withdrew their backing at the height of the crisis last year.
"Many of our sponsors, who had paused their relationship with us during the crisis last year, are lining up to return together with some completely new sponsors who have approached us," Hudson wrote. "Obviously, from the sponsors' perspective, their return and the levels of sponsorship are going to be dependent upon the return of international cricket to Headingley."
The latest developments come after Cindy Butts, the chair of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC), warned that the game was "facing a reckoning" following Rafiq's revelations, amid what she described as a "staggering" response to an ICEC online survey.
"What is clear is that all is not well in cricket," Butts was quoted as saying in The Guardian, after more than 4,000 people had come forward to detail their experiences of discrimination on the basis of race, gender and class.
"Cricket is facing a reckoning. It has to grasp this opportunity to understand and diagnose what the problem is. And then recommend - in an evidence-based way - what the solutions are to its problems. That is abundantly clear.
"Cricket needs to really look in the mirror. It has to say: 'This is what we look like and we are prepared to tackle the issues that are prevalent within the sport in a concerted, serious and considered way.' We hope that, through our report, we will be able to help the sport to move forward into a much more positive place."