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Truth and reconciliation needed in English cricket - PCA vice-chair Anuj Dal

Derbyshire allrounder admits Rafiq's experiences as an Asian-heritage player were familiar

English cricket could benefit from setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address historic instances of racist behaviour, according to Anuj Dal, the vice-chair of the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA), as he backed up Azeem Rafiq's testimony during the sport's latest appearance before MPs in Parliament.
Dal, 25, who currently plays as an allrounder for Derbyshire, told the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee that he had been left "pretty heartbroken" by Rafiq's emotional appearance before the same panel in November, and acknowledged that - as a young British-Asian player - he too had faced "issues that I've felt uncomfortable with" in the course of his career to date.
"I feel very fortunate to be playing cricket and to have a great career within the game, not only as a current player, but also within the PCA," Dal said. "But unfortunately, what [Rafiq] said, it really did hit home for me.
"There were instances as I was growing up where Asian players, in particular, were stereotyped as being lazy," he added. "Specific hand gestures were made for players of colour, and also comments were made while senior members of staff were laughing along, and that to me was particularly heartbreaking.
"I'm in a very different position now compared to when I was younger. The environment was one where I didn't want to be seen to be a troublemaker. I didn't want to be have that tarnish on my reputation, because cricket, as a professional sport, is a very cut-throat career in general. So I was in that position where I had to brush things under the carpet, and try and get on with it."
Dal also acknowledged that he was aware of the term "Kevin", the catch-all nickname that Rafiq claimed had been used to describe players of colour at Yorkshire and elsewhere in English cricket. When pressed on the issue by Clive Efford MP, he agreed that the issue was "clearly not just at Yorkshire, but within the whole game".
"I think the key is to look forward at what we can do to address these things," Dal said. "At the end of the day, we as players want to feel socially accepted within cricket. The banter is a big part of the sport, it's a tight-knit environment within your dressing-room, and I can speak my experience at Derbyshire, we have very strong senior leaders within our team, and I know that these sorts of things wouldn't happen."
South African cricket is currently being required to address a series of historic wrongs as part of its Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report, and Dal acknowledged that a similar process could be beneficial to the English game.
"I think it certainly does [need to happen]," he said. "The past couple years has brought racism within the game to the forefront, and where that's a positive is that everyone within the game is now questioning their response to this issue. That's going to be the need moving forward, not just at the professional level, but right from grassroots level."
Earlier in the same hearing, chief executive Rob Lynch acknowledged that lessons had been learnt by the PCA, after Rafiq had told the DCMS committee that the union had been "incredibly inept" in its initial responses to his claims.
"We had some failings in our dealings with Azeem Rafiq and have learnt a lot of lessons from the last 12 months with Azeem," Lynch said. "We applaud Azeem for his courage and bravery for being a whistleblower to create necessary chances.
"PCA have offered support to Azeem throughout his career but clearly, with this dispute with Yorkshire, we did not meet the standards we needed to and have apologised to him for what went wrong. We have listened to Azeem about what can be done and a number of changes have been introduced."