Second cricketer backs Azeem Rafiq's racism claims against Yorkshire

  • Rana Naved-ul-Hasan says there was ‘systematic taunting’
  • Former Pakistan bowler played for Yorkshire 2008-09

A second cricketer has made allegations of experiencing racism at Yorkshire, with the seamer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan claiming “systematic taunting” existed at the county, after the former spinner Azeem Rafiq outlined a culture of “institutional racism”. The 42-year-old former Pakistan international, who played for Yorkshire in 2008 and 2009, told Cricinfo: “I fully support what Azeem said and this has been the case with me as well.”

He added: “I never spoke about it because, as foreigners, we were temporary and somehow I managed to accept the way it is. So I just focused on playing cricket. I never wanted to jeopardise my contracts. There was systematic taunting and it’s tough to do much about it. To us as overseas players from Asia, when you are not able to perform, the home crowd, which should be supporting us, instead they started hooting and would taunt us with racist slurs.”

A Yorkshire statement said Naved’s comments were “very concerning”. Yorkshire have appointed a law firm to investigate Azeem’s claims and set up a subcommittee including key figures from the British-Asian cricket community.

“If you are performing then you get all the space but, in case I am not taking wickets, the attitude suddenly started to change,” said Naved. “They started to give us a tough time, giving me a smaller hotel room and there used to be a clear case of discrimination. They would do some strange things to annoy us and make you feel lesser. It wasn’t abusive but their attitude wasn’t friendly towards Asians.

“I used to feel bad, but I decided to ignore it because I knew I was not going to live there permanently. But I know what Azeem went through. He did share his frustration in my playing days.”

Jason Gillespie, Yorkshire’s head coach from 2012 to 2016, has attacked a letter from a leading official condemning Azeem, saying “it was almost excusing” the conduct that was the subject of Azeem’s claims. The Australian pointed to a letter written by the chairman of Yorkshire South Premier League, Roger Pugh, calling Azeem “discourteous and disrespectful”.

“I didn’t like that letter, seeing that letter, I think that was a personal attack,” Gillespie told Cricinfo. “It didn’t address the actual issue that Azeem raised. It was like it was almost excusing the issue at hand because Azeem was a difficult character. For me I thought the chairman worded his letter very wrongly and I’m convinced on reflection if he had his time again, he wouldn’t have written that letter because in my personal opinion that letter was wrong.”

Yorkshire will be without four players for their remaining Vitality Blast group games as one of them tested positive for Covid-19 after they had contact outside a secure environment. The club have confirmed that Matthew Fisher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Josh Poysden and David Willey have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days, though the player that tested positive has not been specified.


Andy Martin

The GuardianTramp

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