Yorkshire, Yorkshire

Today Harry Turnbull comments on the dire situation at Headingley. Please be careful what you say in the comments. Ta.

As a Lancastrian, you won’t expect me to be weeping into meThwaites beer over events int badlands…

There has been a nasty taste in me piehole ever since a senior Tyke was heard calling Ashwell Prince a fkn kolpak. It was said with such wicked malice you couldn’t help wonder what other vicious thoughts lay hidden and unsaid.

There has been a collective chip on the shoulder of some Yorkist dinosaurs since Satan’s own county was forced to abandon the discriminatory place of birth rule.

I played cricket with people of various backgrounds and the thought even in the 80s of calling someone a P word was unthinkable.

No doubt there will be more to come and it’s about time this sewage was brought out into the open for a public examination.

Now I’m not just gleefully dancing on the grave of Yorkshire, this issue won’t just be confined to that county. Administrators, executives and players should all come under scrutiny.

The trouble with many organisations is the lip-service paid to inclusion in their jargonised, high-falutin mission statements.

Lancashire is a prime example. The work on preparing diversity and inclusion policies is painstaking. Even though board members are now more diverse it often seems like an exercise in box ticking rather than heartfelt change throughout the organisation.

These clubs and the ECB remain largely the domain of a certain echelon of society.

And it’s hard to figure out why. Lancashire, like Yorkshire, has a large Asian community who love cricket. Why on earth isn’t this tapped into more? Sure we have Mahmood and recently Haseeb Hameed but it’s barely scratching the surface.

I feel that the policies of elite player pathways and supporting largely middle-class cricket clubs is missing out on a rich seam of talent.

More ethnically diverse staffs would help and crucially cricket development in inner city state schools.

I still hope the Yorkies get the biggest clobbering since the Battle of Bosworth though!

Harry Turnburn


  • It is a deeply uncomfortable truth that comments made by the staff of Yorkshire towards ethnic minorities are worryingly common. We have a duty as citizens of the UK to tackle it whenever and wherever it is found. Heres hoping that others will learn lessons and we can get to a place when all people are respected for their contribution and their origins is irrelevant
    “Peter Drake”
    teacher Hexham
    cricket nut

  • I’ve been a bit surprised by some of the stuff coming out. The spectators in cricket are clearly better behaved that football crowds but it looks like cricket is behind in terms of the players themselves. Racism was often in the public eye during the noughties in football (remember the John Terry / Anton Ferdinand thing?) and so I don’t think racist comments would’ve been tolerated within clubs. However, if YCCC are representative at all of the counties, then it looks like racism has lingered within cricket dressing rooms for longer. I should stress the above is just speculative. I can’t speak with any authority on this.

  • As a cricket fan in general and specifically a Yorkshireman, the events that have been made public over the last couple of years have been painful.
    Discussing the matter with a friend recently, we agreed that had such a situation arisen within the companies we work for, the minimum that would have happened would have been a suspension whilst a full investigation took place.
    It would seem (and I have to admit to having no basis for this thought) that some senior players must have not only known what was being said and done towards Azeem Rafiq (and others), but were actively involved. If they weren’t involved, then they were complicit by their inactions in stopping it. To say this is awful is an understatement.
    Some of what has come out so far, and there must surely be more to come, was unacceptable in the school playground of the ‘70s and ‘80s, let alone a professional sports team in the 21st century. Is there any wonder that Yorkshire (and other counties) struggle to attract the potential that exists within BAME communities within their locale.

  • Did Robert Croft complain of any banter in the English dressing room when he played for England? To many sports people are being far to over sensitive now in dressing rooms. Just something else to totally ruin old fashioned English humor. Now there was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman and they went to …………… STOP !!!!!! Dare not say any more!

    • Banter between the English and the Welsh, which goes on all the time in all sports and is 99% friendly in nature, is completely different to what happened to Rafiq. The terms P***, for example, has a history of discrimination and violence. It’s a completely different situation. One really is banter and the other is deeply offensive.

      • James, I think that’s a difficult one to argue. Either the term itself is offensive, which few are, or you can’t judge whether it’s use is, unless you know the context. I think there is also the question of intent. Much though I despise the wretched Hollywood Harry, I don’t think that when he used the P word he was being intentionally racist – just stupid. But the person he was referring to might well taken it that way and that is the important thing. It’s a difficult balance to strike when some people take offense at a term which others – of the same cultural cohort – do not.

      • So you’re saying that there are British Pakistanis who don’t find the word Paki offensive when used by a white person.

        Do you have any evidence for that?

    • Mind you, you seem to be fairly sensitive about the destruction of these wonderful old racially-based jokes, Dave. Are you sure you’re not one of those closeted Woke persons?!

  • There’s clearly been something rotten in YCCC and their relationship with those of Asian background for ever – but the timing of this coming out with Graves’ going and some wanting to take down county cricket is a touch too convenient.

    The one guy who overcame all that was supposedly mentally weak and an “over our dead bodies” selection in certain quarters. They ‘marked his card’ and let that be known through tame conduits in the press. It’ll be astonishing if any reckoning over all this goes anywhere near any of them. You know, like how using misogynistic terms of abuse was not only no barrier to a senior position but actually proof of what a good bloke you were.

    • I don’t recall there being issues along these lines when Tendulkar was recruited to the Yorkshire camp as a 16 year old prodigy. He seemed to be accepted all round. Would be interested to hear his comments on the present situation.

  • It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that away from the Woke South northern working class traditional attitudes are still pretty much as they have been for decades. Living in Brum, which is more north than south in these terms positive discrimination is almost unknown unless enforced. Indeed in my part of the city I am an ethnic minority but don’t have an issue with this and get on well with my neighbours without having to worry too much about propriety. The banter is healthy.
    Now I’m not suggesting Rafiq’s issues are merely banter or trying to justify the cover up that has gone on in ‘God’s own country’ but their ‘call a spade a spade’ approach to life is clearly having trouble adapting to the increasingly Woke establishment. Look at all the 70’s TV programs when if repeated atall are often preceded by a kind of public health warning about prevailing attitudes of the time. Many of our county boards come from this generation, as I do and view things from a different perspective, so you have to adapt.

      • Not my best, but by the very nature of my situation I come into daily contact with more Pakistanis than I do with any other group. So I think I know something of which I’m talking about.
        Why are you being such a patronising git?

      • Well, one person’s being patronised is another’s “calling a spade a spade”–that’s the whole point you’re making, right? Or does it only apply when it’s not directed at you?

        That is the point–you keep coming on here and making these arrogant, crass, dismissive generalisations about people who are trying to raise issues of being patronised–or much, much worse–rather than engage with the issues with some intelligence and empathy.

        Which suggests that you know absolutely nothing abour what you’re talking about and that, however much contact you have with Pakistanis, you’ve learned absolutely nothing about some aspects of the lives of some people in that community which they consider to be very important.

        But I guess it’s different when an older white man feels patronised than when a brown-skinned person, a woman, someone of different sexuality or any of the other people who you so condescendingly dismiss as “Woke” feels belittled. That’s where the phrase “some of my best friends are…” comes from–because it’s so often followed by “…but as a white/male/stright etc person I can proclaim with absolute certainty that they don’t have the problems they say they’re having and they’re just being over-sensitive”.

  • Well I’m not going to get too much into the racial why’s or what nots here, but I’d be interested to know what was said to Rafig, and indeed what if anything he said in return. Sometimes racial comments only work the way some see they suit the particular situation. Unfortunately what is regarded as racial or PC in London just mostly isn’t in the North. I’m not excusing it but it just is.
    But I do think punishing the whole club and 1000s of Yorkshire fans by removing Internationals by the ECB smacks of arse covering, and trying to weedle Graves back in by the back door, and less of box ticking and “policy statements”. A bit over the top I think.
    As dear old Mum once said “the trouble with some people is that they just haven’t got enough to do”. Just a thought.

    • I don’t buy the “it’s different in the north” argument. Rafiq is northern born and bred, and so are the other players who’ve raised issues at Yorkshire as far as I know. Or are they somehow undercover agents for this mythical entity “the Woke South”?

      I suspect what you and Marc are getting at is more along the lines of “what is regarded as racial or PC by many people with black or brown skin, women and non-straight people isn’t by middle-aged and old straight white men”!

    • Sorry, Rafiq Yorks partly bred but not born…but somehow I don’t think his attituide to these events has been too conditioned by imbibing Karachiite middle-class wokeness…:-)

  • We still don’t know all the details- the full unedited report must be published ASAP- but from what we’ve heard so far, the crisis Yorkshire are in is one completely of their own making, and the committee’s attempts to brush it under the carpet have made it ten times worse. But there must be many Yorkshire fans who are equally appalled by what’s happening to their club and the stain it puts on cricket’s reputation.

    Nevertheless, Yorkshire need to be punished severely to show them they need to change. As a Durham fan, we hardly need reminding of how harshly the ECB came down on us just for getting into financial trouble.

    • Totally agree mate. On the positive side, I saw what Patel said today at his ‘inauguration’ address and he spoke very well. I think he’ll clean this mess up.

      • On the cricketing front there was a match in the Bradford League recently which featured 22 Patels. One if the teams, LPS always had 11 Patels but the other, which would normally have had 10, had their keeper, a non Patel, injured and his replacement made for a full house.
        I think this is unique in the annals of regular cricketing teams.

      • Quirky little story (actually not all that recent–it seems to be from 2001)–but how does it relate to the current situation? I can’t really see the connection except that it features people called Patel.

    • Agree totally. Graves was in charge of the Durham punishment. Now it has come home to roost. Why should it be less than Durham? Tests withdrawn. Yorks should have 48 points off and demoted and then another 48 points the following year. A punishment cap on spending and forced to sell off key players. No one cared about the innocent Durham players and fans and that other clubs carried bigger debt including Yorkshire. The team was deliberately broken. And all so that nine Test sides were reduced to eight for the coming franchise experiment and that Graves best mate at Hampshire had his team spared the drop. Graves thought he was untouchable but he left behind a corrupt ECB. Yorks also thought untouchable. Known for years they had a bullying culture.

  • From ESPN:

    Azeem Rafiq, the most stubborn man in Yorkshire, achieves his vindication

    I can’t help but think there must have been stiff competition for that accolade !!!

  • Here we go. Now Andrew Gale is suspended for a 2010, yes 2010, iffy tweet. Once this door is opened just about everything not considered pc is going to come out of the closet. There will be no winners here I’m afraid, and I daresay it will open the flood gates not just in cricket, but just about every sport going. Not sure how you define whether that’s a good thing or not.

    • Andrew Gale had already been in the spotlight for allegations of bullying when he was captain. May have just been overkill in the man management department but not a pleasant reputation.

  • Can’t comment about the existence of systemic racism at Yorkshire as I live in Australia but is there any chance Rafiq was seeking a pay day after failing to make it as a player? Passing strange he never complained at the time and seemed to get on well with all those beastly Yorkshire players (judging by the photos). What was it – a six figure pay-off? Not bad.

    • It’s very common for the victims bullying & harassment (as for the victims of sexual crime) to find it difficult, bordering on impossible, to report their concerns at the time. Often it can take a considerable period of time – years, even – to report these things, so there is nothing unusual in the timing of this from Rafiq’s point of view.

    • “I didn’t say anything at the time. I was a teenager in a dressing room with big characters. To them it was banter. To me it wasn’t, but you don’t want to do anything to block your chance of getting into the first team.” [Zoheb Sharif, today]

      “I’ve been in dressing rooms where things have been said, and, really, I should have stopped it. I had a captain who was openly racist. Why didn’t I stop it? It was the environment. I raised my voice about it once and I was made out to be the person… I might have read Carbs [Michael Carberry] talk about a similar thing. You look back and you think the one time I did raise it, I was made out to be the person who was in the wrong. Through the years you feel like you have to do things to fit in, and I did. The minute I didn’t, I felt isolated”. [Rafiq, Aug 2020]

      Bit also–Ross, are you seriously suggesting that every time you personally raise an issue of feeling badly treated, the only (or even the main) thing you’re thinking about is money? If you’re not, why would Rafiq be doing that in that situation if Ross Hall wouldn’t? If you are, I suspect it says much more about you than it does about Rafiq. And to be honest I would be fairly sceptical that that’s actually what you’re doing–don’t you mainly want an acknowledgement that you’ve been badly treated, for that treatment to stop and if it’s too late for that, at least that other people won’t be treated in the same way by the same people or organisation?

    • I did rather unkindly wonder the same. A player with a first class batting average of 20.78 and a bowling average of 39.73 might not have a six figure earning potential in professional cricket. However, I am not exactly stunned by the revelations about Yorkshire CCC. The club has not been particularly welcoming to outsiders of all races down the years and there have been more than a few players born in Yorkshire who have preferred to to ply their trade elsewhere.

    • About the “money-grabbing” view in general, I think the post above yours puts it quite well.

      Although it’s irrelevant, I don’t think anyone is pretending Rafiq fulfilled his potential as a red-ball player (and for some context as to at least some of the why, especially at the end of his career, his witness statement to the Employment Tribunal makes interesting reading).

      But as a white-ball player, his record compares pretty favourably to his team-mate Rashid’s or, say, Matt Parkinson’s–and given that Rashid is one of England’s best ever white-ball spinners and Parkinson has a Hudred contract, I’m not sure that six-figure earning potential would have been at all out of the question.

      • The settlement was made out of court but one assumes will have taken into account lost earnings among other factors. English cricket is in a pretty parlous state financially and it would not take many of these cases to drive some counties to bankruptcy. It will take time for the full impact to be felt but it is fair to suggest that the ECB are potentially facing an existential crisis. I would be interested to know what policies, procedures and training Yorkshire and other clubs had in place to prevent this happening. In the big corporate environment the tolerance of any sort of racist language is likely to be zero not least because of the potential cost of litigation and anyone breaching the codes would be liable to instant dismissal. The refusal of the club to address the matter immediately is now proving to have been disastrous decision. I know Yorkshire people like to pride themselves on their stubbornness but in this instance obstinacy was pure stupidity.

  • Another well-known cricket blog, one that likes to picture itself as the home of rebels and malcontents, has had plenty to say about all this.

    What a surprise that they’ve used it ti promulgate a “trustee” model of governance for English cricket which would strip the counties of their power over the ECB. By an astonishing coincidence, this happens to be the stakeholder model of rule favoured by the World Economic Forum. It sounds benign until you start to pick it apart (and you’ll have to because the lackey media won’t do it for you)….

    Who decides who the stakeholders are? Are catering and hospitality? Their jobs may depend on it. Is the local neighbourhood? They have to live with grounds every day of their lives. Are sponsors? You can bet they are – and suddenly big corporations have a direct say in how a sport is governed. This is the real agenda here. Are fans? How can this be achieved?

    Once somebody -and it won’t be me or you – decides who the stakeholders are, how do they select their representatives? It’s conceivable some could be elected but in most cases it’s difficult to see how this could be achieved. Appointed, unsackable figures are likely to be able to outvote any elected elements. The whole thing is a recipe for control which is why those with stacks of cash love it.

    It is incidentlly the model used in NZ. Well, NZ are lovely and their governance system seems to be working! What NZ does today, we’ll be doing tomorrow….

    • Assuming that you mean the Being Outside Cricket article–in your rush to show how much more radical and caring you are than everybody else, you haven’t actually said!–I think you’re letting your nose for a conspiracy get in the way of what they’re actually suggesting.

      Personally I’m sceptical that the whole reason they wrote this article was to sell cricket out to big corporations, as you say–they seem to be fans first and foremost, not representatives of Bezos and Musk!

      But in any case, the writer says explicitly that fans would be involved–and sure, hoiw you would do that is an interesting question, but you’re essentially assuming your own worst case scenario and then attributing it to the writer. Maybe he does want cricket taken over by Coca-Cola, but it’s a stretch to assume that based on the article–you’re essentially saying more about your views than his.

      And “big corporations”–are you joking?! Sure, there’s the odd Nike and Kia around sponsoring things, but Uptonsteel, John Pye Auctions and JT Ellis furniture? Pardon the scepicism, but if they were up there with Pepsi and Monsanto, we’d be hearing about them a lot more than…we do.

  • So Parliament is managing to conduct a hearing into YCCC? Does anyone else remember the hearing they were going to hold into issues arising from DOAG like the future of Test cricket and the ECB’s governance under Giles Clarke? The one that never happened?

    Anyone who still can’t see that racism is just an issue the elite are manipulating to play people off against each other is beyond dumb (or too busy virtue-signalling).

    • Does being as wonderfully intelligent, incisive and superior bring you joy, Simon, or is it a burden…..:-)

  • Harry Turnburn! Who he?
    It’s not black and white….or is it?
    Vaughan is now in a hole and can’t back down and will be further vilified if he claims the Asian players have conspired to make a false allegation. I mean you can well imagine him some sort of joke at the time but it just doesn’t look good now however many years later.
    Not going to end well

    • No it won’t get under better until the term “racism” is defined better than treating someone less favourably because of race, colour or creed. No that isn’t very nice, but a lot of things are not particularly nice and open to all manner of interpretation and manipulation to fit situations. And it doesn’t seem to work in reverse does it. To me racism is Nazi Germany and Bosnia where whole races were persecuted and exterminated. Supposed or not racism in the Yorkshire dressing room, however unpleasant, quite frankly does not come close. Sorry but Rafiq sounds like a bit of a journeyman to me with a king size chip on his shoulder. A Government lead enquiry into that? Really are we serious?

      • That sets quite a high bar.

        Anything short of the Holocaust isn’t really racism. It’s just bad manners.

        That leaves a lot of wiggle room.

    • That argument doesn’t make sense to me–it seems like the “the world can’t be perfect so it doesn’t matter if it’s shit” approach. It sounds like a describing a place where there’s an epidemic of burglaries and someone demands an enquiry, and you say “well there’s no point, it’s only burglary and murder’s much worse”. Sure it’s worse, but that doesn’t mean that the lesser one isn’t a big problem, or that there isn’t some connection between the two.

      It’s racism because–as you say–it’s negative profiling based on race–the clue is in the word: that’s literally what racism means! Genocide is something different–and the clue’s also in the word.

      In any case, no-one’s saying that what Rafiq and others have suffered is on the same level as what happened in Bosnia or Nazi Germany–and so it’s a straw man to bring that up, really: it’s a comparison which only seems to exist in your head.

      And worrying that “it doesn’t work in reverse” rather suggests that you don’t have any idea how power works, especially group power. Why would you be worried about that anyway?–if racism at Yorks is a ludicrously small problem, then anti-white racism in the UK is, as a whole-society problem, off the scale of minisculeness!

        • That’s also bad.

          Can’t you be against all racism?

          Why would you respond to examples of English racism by saying “yeah but we’re not the only ones”?


      • Hence “as a whole-society problem”, Ross–which you seem to have conveniently overlooked!

        Obviously for people who are victims, any abuse of any kind by anyone is very likely to be extremely traumatic.

  • So 1 month before an Ashes series and Australia are T20 world champions while England are embroiled in a scandal about institutional racism.

    If we keep going with this role reversal, maybe some Australian players will quit during the Ashes because it became too hard?

  • The bitter irony here is that Yorkshire probably has the greatest source of Asian cricketers right on their doorstep…
    “Peter Drake”
    teacher and cricket nut


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