Rafiq believes Yorkshire should be allowed to host international cricket again

By Sports Desk January 12, 2022

Azeem Rafiq believes that Yorkshire has "taken a step in the right direction" following last year's racism scandal and should be allowed to host England games once again.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club was suspended by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) from hosting international cricket in November in response to the county's handing of allegations of institutional racism made by Rafiq.

However, the former spin bowler - who had two spells with the team between 2008 and 2018 - has said the county has "done enough" to warrant having that suspension lifted.

The ECB said at the time of the suspension that it would remain until Yorkshire "clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected".

Several high-profile figures at the county either resigned or were sacked over the handling of the allegations.

Former chairman Roger Hutton has been replaced by Lord Patel, while director of cricket Martyn Moxon has been succeeded by former Yorkshire and England fast bowler Darren Gough.

Chief executive Mark Arthur also resigned, and first-team coach Andrew Gale was sacked.

"I want to see England playing at Headingley this summer," Rafiq wrote in the Daily Mail. 

"At first in all this, I believed international cricket should be taken away from them, but they have done enough to warrant getting it back, for now at least.

"They should be given back the international cricket so vital to their very survival.

"If we are asking an institution to look at itself, then we should recognise when it begins to show it is genuinely sorry and attempts to start putting things right.

"Yorkshire need to be supported and helped to move in that right direction."

The third Test against world champions New Zealand that had been scheduled to take place at Headingley before the suspension was imposed begins on June 23.

Rafiq also spoke highly of the appointment of Gough as director of cricket at Yorkshire, citing their previous relationship as team-mates.

"It's no secret we are friends since he was one of my first captains and we have always stayed in touch," he added.

"I'm encouraged by his involvement, not least because the game needs people like him back directly involved."

Rafiq said at a DCMS select committee hearing in November that he believed English cricket to be "institutionally racist", and again emphasised that more change is needed in the game, not just at his former county.

"I am not saying everything is now hunky-dory at my old county and we can all move on," he said.

"Yorkshire must be kept under review to make sure this really is the start of something important and meaningful - everything is not fine yet, not by a long way.

"It just seems outside the county everyone wants to throw the book at Yorkshire and my concern is some want to do that in order to make themselves look better or deflect attention away from their [own] issues.

"I don't agree with that because it will not drive change.

"There are thousands of cases outside Yorkshire and what is happening to them today could easily happen to another county tomorrow."

An ECB investigation into the allegations is ongoing.

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