Essex vow to act quickly following report over discriminatory treatment

By Sports Desk December 08, 2023

Essex have vowed to move swiftly in issuing sanctions after an independent report found former players were subject to racist abuse and discriminatory treatment.

Katharine Newton KC was commissioned to investigate in 2021 after allegations of discrimination were made by former Essex players Jahid Ahmed, Maurice Chambers and Zoheb Sharif.

A summary report by Newton published by Essex on Friday found that reference to players’ ethnic, racial and religious origins was “entirely normalised and tolerated behaviour” within the club’s dressing room between the mid-1990s until around 2013, under the misguided belief that it was acceptable ‘banter’.

“Those at the receiving end of this treatment were too scared to speak up for fear of damaging their prospects of selection and progression,” Newton said in her report conclusions.

“In any event, there were no effective mechanisms for raising such concerns.”

Newton said one of the players was given the nickname ‘bomber’ following the September 11 terrorist attacks. She also found two of the players were referred to as a “curry muncher” and that the phrase was “commonly used” in the dressing room to describe individuals of South Asian heritage.

The third player was repeatedly subjected to racist treatment by a team-mate, who would taunt him by offering him bananas “in a manner which was unequivocally racist”. Newton found this happened in the dressing room, and on coach journeys back from matches.

The team’s coach “was aware” of this conduct, Newton concluded.

“Immediate action should have been taken against the individual; yet nothing was done to stop the behaviour,” Newton wrote.

“Given his position, the coach would have played an influential role in setting the tone and culture of the team. His failure to stop this behaviour sent a strong message to the squad and staff that this conduct had been condoned.”

Player Three also had a banana thrown at him down a flight of stairs by a player who was on trial at Essex.

Newton said her full report, which has been sent to Essex and also copied to the Cricket Regulator, named “most of the perpetrators”.

Jahid has previously criticised the length of time the report has taken, saying it has been “dragged out” to protect the accused.

Essex chair Anu Mohindru apologised to the victims and pledged the sanctioning process would not be prolonged.

“With regard to our sanction process, we don’t want to drag this out for anybody’s sake. That process has started,” Mohindru told the PA news agency.

One of Newton’s 15 recommendations was that sanctions for discriminatory behaviour must reflect the seriousness of the conduct, and that in determining such sanctions the club must “not be influenced by internal pressures such as the popularity/cricketing ability of the perpetrator”.

Mohindru said he “absolutely” agreed with the recommendation and added: “We have to look at the degrees as well – whether it’s done on a repeated basis, whether it’s a number of incidents, whether you have to take into account the senior level the person was holding at the time, the age of the person at the time, we’re talking 17, 18 years ago, there has to be proportionality to it. It’s not one size fits all.”

Newton’s report also found a lack of understanding of the needs of Muslim players at Essex.

It found too that the club’s former chairman, John Faragher, used racist language during a board meeting in 2017 and that the club failed to properly investigate a complaint about the language used.

The report also found Faragher “interfered in the election process by using intimidation to try and dissuade a candidate from standing for election” to the club’s general committee.

Mohindru said Essex would be “stupid” not to learn the lessons from the Yorkshire racism case, where an initial failure by the club to sanction any individuals led to the England and Wales Cricket Board stripping them of the right to host lucrative international fixtures at Headingley until governance changes were made.

He also said it would be “naive” of Essex to think that the club would avoid sanctions from the ongoing Cricket Regulator investigation into these same allegations.

“I am incredibly sorry (the victims) had to endure those things. It’s inexcusable,” Mohindru said.

“I would like to thank them for their bravery, it’s incredibly appreciated. I have to reiterate that we are not the club that we were. We still have work to do. There are 15 recommendations and we believe we’re at 80 per cent of those.”

Related items

  • The numbers which prove Derek Underwood had plenty of players in a spin The numbers which prove Derek Underwood had plenty of players in a spin

    Derek Underwood, one of Test and first-class cricket’s all-time leading wicket-takers, has died aged 78.

    Underwood, who retired in 1987 and played his last Test in 1982, still ranks sixth among Test wicket-takers for England and is the leading spinner on that list.

    He also ranks 14th all-time for first-class wickets and here, the PA news agency looks at his career record.

    First-class record

    Underwood took 2,465 first-class wickets in a 25-year career with Kent and England spanning 676 matches.

    That ranks him comfortably inside the top 20 in the game’s history, while his wickets came at an average of 20.28.

    While that excellent mark is actually bettered by most of those ahead of him, on a list headed by fellow slow left-armer Wilfred Rhodes’ 4,204 wickets at 16.72, Underwood’s economy rate of 2.14 runs an over is the best of the many spinners in that group and trails only Derek Shackleton and Maurice Tate.

    He took 100 wickets in his debut first-class season in 1963 – becoming the youngest bowler to do so, only turning 18 in June of that summer.

    Nicknamed “Deadly”, he had career-best figures of nine for 28 and was noted for his match-winning spells – particularly on damp pitches, such as his seven for 50 in a 1968 Test against Australia at the Oval and eight for nine against Sussex five years later.

    Though not noted for his batting, he recorded a solitary first-class century in 1984, aged 39. Sussex were again the opponents as he nudged his way to 111 in a tied game. He added just two half-centuries in 710 innings.

    A further 411 matches in List A cricket, with 572 wickets at 19.40, took him beyond 1,000 matches and 3,000 wickets in his career.

    England record

    No other England spinner has taken as many Test wickets as Underwood’s 297, in 86 games between 1966 and 1982.

    His wickets came at an average of 25.84, with his best innings and match figures both coming against Pakistan in August 1974 with eight for 51 in the second innings and 13 for 71 in the match.

    James Anderson and Stuart Broad have broken new frontiers for England in recent years, with 700 and 604 wickets respectively, but only three other bowlers have exceeded Underwood’s tally.

    Lord Ian Botham took 383 between 1977 and 1992, Bob Willis took 325 and Fred Trueman 307.

    Graeme Swann is Underwood’s nearest challenger among England spinners, taking his 255 wickets in just 60 matches but at an average over four runs higher than Underwood’s.

    Underwood ranks 38th on the all-time Test wicket list and is in the top 10 among spinners, a list headed by Sri Lanka great Muttiah Muralitharan’s record 800 and Shane Warne’s 708 for Australia.

    Anil Kumble took 619 for India, Australia’s Nathan Lyon and India’s Ravichandran Ashwin are over 500 and Rangana Herath and Harbhajan Singh broke the 400 barrier. Daniel Vettori (362) and Lance Gibbs (309) are the others ahead of Underwood.

    On the spinning pitches of India, Underwood edges out Australia’s Richie Benaud as the leading visiting spinner with 54 wickets.

    Underwood also played 26 one-day internationals, taking 32 wickets at 22.93 with a best of four for 44 against the West Indies.

  • ‘Deadly’ Derek Underwood – the spinner who caused havoc with unique skill set ‘Deadly’ Derek Underwood – the spinner who caused havoc with unique skill set

    More than 40 years have passed since his last Test appearance, but among English spinners the achievements of ‘Deadly’ Derek Underwood stand alone as the benchmark.

    Underwood, who has died aged 78, remains the country’s most prolific, successful and revered spin bowler of his or any other period, claiming an unmatched career haul of 297 wickets.

    His ubiquitous nickname was uttered affectionately by those who played alongside him and fearfully by those he came up against, a recognition of his ability to wreak havoc with his unique set of skills.

    Quicker and flatter than the average slow left-armer – the first word of that descriptor always seemed out of place – he was renowned as a master manipulator of damp surfaces in the eras of uncovered pitches.

    That puts him comfortably clear at the top of the England lineage – 42 ahead of the next best, Graeme Swann, and streets beyond significant figures like Tony Lock (174), Jim Laker (193) and Moeen Ali (204).

    While Underwood’s record tally was undoubtedly aided by the ‘sticky dog’ conditions which later disappeared from the game, he was several decades too early to cash in on the goldmine of DRS.

    While Swann won 70 lbw decisions with technology on his side, Underwood earned just 24 in a time when batters could confidently use their pad as a first line of defence.

    His impressive final haul, and the legacy that goes with it, would have been even more striking were it not for two self-imposed interruptions to his international career, first for joining Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket and later for his role in the first ‘rebel tour’ of South Africa.

    The International Cricket Council’s official rankings, applied retrospectively, now places Underwood as the world’s number one Test bowler for almost four years between 1969-1973.

    Among many highs, including 17 five-wicket hauls and six 10-wicket matches, he is most fondly remembered for a starring role in a classic Ashes finish at the Oval in 1968.

    With a downpour threatening to preserve Australia’s 2-1 series lead, members of the crowd helped with the mopping up work to allow Colin Cowdrey’s side little more than half-an-hour to take the six wickets they needed for victory.

    All eyes were on Underwood, who exploited a made-to-measure surface with a sequence of four wickets for six runs in 27 balls, wrapping things up with barely five minutes to spare and finishing with seven for 50.

    In similar circumstances against Sussex five years later, he proved positively unplayable as he gorged himself with cartoonish figures of eight for nine.

    Born on June 8 1945 in Bromley to a cricketing family, his aptitude revealed itself early at Dulwich College Preparatory School when he took nine wickets in an innings for the under-10s.

    He went one better by claiming all 10 in an outing for Beckenham and Penge Grammar School and was later spotted by Lock, who passed an excited recommendation on to Kent.

    After making his first-class debut for them at just 17, taking 101 wickets in each of his first two seasons, he progressed to the Test arena by the tender age of 21.

    A year later Alan Knott, a long-time accomplice from schoolboy cricket to the Kent first XI, followed him and one of England’s defining bowler-wicketkeeper partnerships took root.

    Mark Nicholas, broadcaster and former Hampshire captain, once described batting against the pair as being “piggy-in-the-middle of a collaboration in genius”.

    Underwood proved himself a reliable matchwinner when the elements assisted – it was said England carried him like an umbrella, for he was indispensable when it rained – and relentlessly miserly when they did not.

    That combination had already yielded 265 Test scalps in 74 caps when he was lured away by the Packer revolution in 1977, a decision that brought overdue financial security and no real regrets.

    He was welcomed back for a lower-key second act, making 12 more appearances and signing off with eight wickets in Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test, before bringing down the curtain for good by joining the controversial trip to Apartheid-era South Africa in 1982.

    Underwood continued to turn out for Kent for several seasons and finished up a three-time County Championship winner, including the 1970 title which ended a 57-year wait.

    Having reached 1,000 first-class wickets as a 25-year-old – only Wilfred Rhodes and George Lohmann had ever completed the feat quicker – he finally added a century to his list of achievements at the age of 39.

    For a batter best known for belligerent efforts as a nightwatchman, it was a proud late addition to an already-glittering CV.

    Husband to Dawn and father to two daughters, Heather and Fiona, he was appointed president of the MCC in 2008 and an honorary fellow of Canterbury Christ Church University in later life.

    A relatively low-profile retirement followed, belying his status as a fixture in any conversation about an all-time England XI.

  • Former England and Kent spinner Derek Underwood dies aged 78 Former England and Kent spinner Derek Underwood dies aged 78

    Derek Underwood, the most prolific spin bowler in England’s Test history, has died at the age of 78, his former county Kent have announced.

    Underwood, affectionately known as ‘Deadly’, claimed 297 scalps in 86 Test appearances for his country with his brisk left-arm spin, as well as another 32 in ODIs.

    Known as a master of uncovered pitches, he first played for his country as a 21-year-old in 1966 and made his final appearance in 1982.

    His record tally would have been even higher had it not been for his decision to play in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket and the first rebel tour of South Africa, but he still sits 42 wickets ahead of his nearest rival among spinners, Graeme Swann.

    Kent chair Simon Phillip said in a statement: “The Kent Cricket family is in mourning following the passing of one of its greatest ever players.

    “Derek was an outstanding contributor to both Kent and England, winning trophies for club and country and etching his name in the history books forevermore.

    “Watching Derek weave his unique magic on a wet wicket was a privilege for all who were able to witness it. His induction into the ICC Hall of Fame shows the esteem in which he was held in world cricket.

    “An advocate for growing our game worldwide whilst protecting our sport’s rich heritage, Derek also made substantial contributions off the field as well as on it, and he will be sorely missed by everyone at Kent Cricket.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.