Eoin Morgan, the England limited-overs captain, has welcomed the investigation into racism at Yorkshire and the publicity it has received, even though it has diverted attention from the spectacular achievements of his team at the T20 World Cup.
Morgan backed the England and Wales Cricket Board’s intervention on the basis that his players “can only do so much in role-modelling what we believe is right”.
Speaking on Friday in Dubai after after the ECB board had stripped Yorkshire of the right to host international cricket as the fallout from their bungled report into Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racist abuse during his two spells at the club continued, Morgan said: “In matters of an extreme or serious nature like these are, they need to be met head-on.
“For us as a team, that’s exactly what we want to see. The investigation is ongoing so only time will tell what happens, but I think the actions by the board have demonstrated how seriously the ECB are taking how this has been handled. Yes, we want to see the sport in a great light, but equally if there’s an issue as serious as this we want it dealt with.”
England’s team at the World Cup includes players from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds and of different religions, reflecting a sport that has changed significantly over recent years – though, as recent revelations have proved, one still with significant work to do.
“Our culture has been built around inclusivity and diversity,” Morgan said. “It’s actually been quite a strong part of our game, and we have been active about talking and actioning things that show meaningful change. We are very serious about it. We firmly believe that there is no place in our sport for any type of discrimination, and I think the actions of the ECB board to Yorkshire have indicated how serious they are about dealing with issues like this.
“From our point of view as a team, we can only do so much in role-modelling what we believe is right. We’ve been part of significant change that we feel will lead to something that will be bigger than any of our careers or any of the trophies that we win. What we do at the moment to try and achieve that isn’t perfect, but we are making good ground towards the change that we want.
“Outside of that, we are actually limited to what we can achieve. We’ll continue to give that strong message, and I suppose ultimately to be ourselves. In terms you have to be yourself. You should be relaxed, and given that freedom to feel comfortable in your own skin.”