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Yorkshire, Michael Vaughan and the ECB have made a wicked mess about Azeem Rafiq’s treatment

It’s hard to imagine a happy ending now, or how the greatest crisis ever to engulf Yorkshire can be resolved.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Azeem Rafiq treatment scandal threatens the very foundations of one of England’s most illustrious counties.

Just when it can’t seem to get any worse, more damning accusations come involving important figures in the club’s history and an unseemly dispute between Yorkshire and the ECB over who should be responsible for clearing up this sordid mess.

English cricket has been rocked by Azeem Rafiq's accusations of racism in Yorkshire

English cricket has been rocked by Azeem Rafiq’s accusations of racism in Yorkshire

It seemed like we’d hit a low point when it emerged earlier this week that Gary Ballance had not only called his ‘friend’ Rafiq a ‘P ** i’, but had been dismissed as a joke for the sorry excuse. of an independent investigation that has been carried out. now it cost Yorkshire President Roger Hutton his job.

But Friday was the most disturbing day yet in an issue that is gathering worrying momentum.

There are few more important figures in English cricket than Michael Vaughan, captain of the legendary 2005 Ashes winning team and now the face of BBC cricket as he attempts to attract a young and diverse audience to the game through coverage of the Hundred.

But Vaughan’s position is now seriously in jeopardy following Sportsmail’s reveal that Rana Naved has backed Rafiq’s accusation that he said ‘Too many of you, we have to do something about it’ to a group of Asian players at the club. . Vaughan’s decision to get his retaliation first by confirming the allegations against him, and strenuously denying them, on Thursday appears to have backfired, mostly because he revealed that the BBC was aware of his involvement last summer but did nothing.

Gary Ballance has been indefinitely suspended by England after admitting he used racist language towards Rafiq when they were teammates in Yorkshire.

Gary Ballance has been indefinitely suspended by England after admitting he used racist language towards Rafiq when they were teammates in Yorkshire.

Gary Ballance has been indefinitely suspended by England after admitting he used racist language towards Rafiq when they were teammates in Yorkshire.

Surely, then, their coverage of the Rafiq story was compromised and it is not surprising that the BBC is now being said to be reviewing Vaughan’s position.

Then there’s coach Andrew Gale, who admitted yesterday that he used the word ‘yid’ to insult the then-Leeds United media chief when he was captain of Yorkshire in 2010.

Three players in the limelight so far and, it seems, several more to come.

It was a bit better when ECB Chief Executive Tom Harrison made a rare appearance above the parapet to address the governing body’s late decision to get fully involved in the crisis once sponsors had started to defect from Yorkshire in mass.

The ECB got off to a decent start Thursday when it stripped Yorkshire of international cricket until they got their house in order, as Sportsmail insisted they should.

But Harrison was clearly uninspiring yesterday when he tried to convince us, not for the first time this year, of the ECB’s capacity for strong leadership.

First, there seemed to be a blame game, with Hutton criticizing the ECB’s lack of support for Yorkshire when Rafiq first made his claims of institutionalized racism and Harrison insisting that it was not the place for the ECB to get involved then.

Michael Vaughan admitted that he was named in the Azeem Rafiq report but denied the accusations of racism.

They’re sure to be involved now, but Harrison first came as a surprise on Friday when he confirmed that he had yet to read the controversial report on the allegations, even though it has now been in the possession of the ECB for several days.

Harrison blamed a ‘regulatory process’ but surely, as the leading man at the ECB, he would want to get his hands on that document as soon as it hits the ECB table at Lord’s. Otherwise, how can you be sure of what you are facing?

Then there was Harrison’s admission that he has had no recent contact with Rafiq, despite his admitting that this week’s developments are a ‘vindication’ of the struggles of an Asian British cricketer who has been doubted by some in the I play for too long.

However, Harrison has had time for his old friend Colin Graves, whom he saw on Thursday when the former Yorkshire and ECB president was clearly pitching to regain his old role at the helm of the beleaguered club.

“Colin is passionate about cricket in Yorkshire and that is probably why the club still exists,” said Harrison. ‘I have a very close relationship with Colin. I have great appreciation for him and he is a close friend. ‘

What would not have been better for Yorkshire would have been for them to have the same president, chief executive officer and director of cricket as when many of the Rafiq-related incidents occurred. What kind of look would that have been for the Asian community that Yorkshire somehow had to convince that it really is not a racist club?

So thank goodness Yorkshire made sense when they appointed Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford as director and chairman in Hutton’s place, rather than bringing back Harrison’s friend, Graves’s divisive figure.

It is a start, albeit a small one.

However, while Graves has held off for now, the two members of Yorkshire’s top management whom even Hutton asked to leave are still there.

How CEO Mark Arthur and Cricket Director Martyn Moxon are still in place at Headingley is unbelievable.

Perhaps their departures will come when they face the music in front of MPs at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports select committee hearing on November 16.

The ECB has now prevented Headingley from hosting international cricket next summer.

The ECB has now prevented Headingley from hosting international cricket next summer.

The ECB has now prevented Headingley from hosting international cricket next summer.

Before that, Yorkshire, under the leadership of Lord Patel, and in particular the ECB, have to get serious. In fairness to Harrison, he seemed sincere in responding to the allegation that the ECB had only gotten properly involved because backers began to walk away from the game and politicians got involved.

“I don’t think that was it,” he said. “ It was about the game being dragged through mud and discredited as a result of Yorkshire’s declaration last week that no action would be taken.

‘That was the moment when we felt like we were going to be dealing with something very different.

‘It is not a violation of regulations, but a violation of the values ​​that we have in cricket and the unwritten contract that we have with the people in the game that the game will always be there for them.

“It became clear very quickly that we would have to take important action because the message was that cricket was not very racist. There is no way on earth that the message can be. Racism has no place in this sport. Any form of discrimination has no place in this sport. We needed to take decisive action because Yorkshire has not. So, we have.’

Not quite. They have started, but there is much more to do. How about a point penalty and relegation to Division Two of the Yorkshire County Championship?

Otherwise, the ECB will be accused of taking money more seriously than race because that is what they imposed on Durham for financial irregularities in 2017.

Perhaps, with strong leadership, we won’t see that unhappy ending after all. But there is a long way to go before Rafiq and everyone involved in the game can start thinking about it.

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