Yorkshire chairman Kamlesh Patel said on Thursday he had received “phenomenally racist” letters following Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racist abuse and bullying while playing for the country. On the day that Test cricket returned to Yorkshire’s Headingley headquarters, Patel also revealed that the county had failed if England were to play in Leeds again. Pakistan-born former off-spinner Rafiq first raised allegations of racism and bullying in September 2020, related to his two Yorkshire spells.
Rafiq testified last year at a parliamentary committee, which put increasing pressure on Yorkshire over their previous failure to take any disciplinary action.
This eventually led to a mass cleanup of senior boardroom figures and coaching staff.
The English and Wales Cricket Board have also threatened to withdraw profitable international players from Headingley unless changes are made.
Reforms promoted by new chairman Patel have averted what could have been a financial disaster for Yorkshire.
But the issue is far from settled, with the ECB’s disciplinary charges against the club and ‘a number of individuals’ yet to be named.
Patel, who spoke at Headingley on the first day of the third Test between England and New Zealand on Thursday, was asked on BBC Radio if he had received racist mail.
“Phenomenally racist,” he replied. “We have a very small but very vocal group of individuals who do not accept that racism has happened at this club.
“I think we need to move beyond that denial. Racism is happening in society. It has definitely happened at this club.”
However, Patel added: “Ninety to 95 percent of members and people I meet on the street and on the train have said thank you for doing what you do and have been very supportive.
“We know there is misogyny, discrimination, power imbalances and these things are happening. It has happened badly here.
“We had to change for the better and I really think we are.”
Asked if Yorkshire had failed if they had been stripped of Test cricket as punishment, Patel said: “In simple terms, yes. I think we would.
“If Test matches or international matches did not come back here, we will go bankrupt.”
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