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Former Yorkshire players and employees have given evidence in support of Azeem Rafiq as part of the investigation into allegations of institutional racism at the club.

Rafiq spoke out about his experiences at Yorkshire this summer, telling ESPNcricinfo in September that he had been close to committing suicide after what he experienced. He was interviewed by the independent investigating team last month, and said that he had been “bullied and targeted because of my race”.

Two former Yorkshire employees to have given evidence were Taj Butt and Tony Bowry. Butt, who was employed within the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation as a community development officer, offered his resignation within six weeks of joining, which he said was due to targeted language used at the club.

ALSO READ: ‘I was ‘bullied and targeted because of my race’ – Rafiq

“[There were] continuous references to taxi drivers and restaurant workers when referring to [the] Asian community,” he said. “They called every person of colour ‘Steve’. Even [India batsman] Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined as an overseas professional, was called Steve because they could not pronounce his name.”

Bowry worked at the club as a coach until 1996 and as a cultural diversity officer at the Yorkshire Cricket Board from 1996 until 2011, before he was appointed as a cricket development manager to develop the game for black communities.

“Many youngsters struggled to make progress, and the few that did found the environment of the dressing rooms very difficult and unwelcoming, as a direct result of racism they faced,” he said. “It affected performance… they were labelled trouble-makers.”

Tino Best, the former West Indies fast bowler who played at the club in 2010, and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, the former Pakistan seamer who joined as an overseas player between 2008 and 2009, both reiterated their previous support for Rafiq.

Yorkshire announced last month that they will appoint a head of equality in a bid to boost inclusion after the ECB revealed a number of new measures to tackle discrimination.

Rafiq welcomed the measures both organisations had taken, and said that he would seek “an urgent meeting” with the ECB in order to discuss “how we can instil cultural and racial acceptance through all age groups”.

“Part of the problem I faced was that my concerns and complaints fell on deaf ears,” Rafiq said. “I raised complaints about racism, including with the head of diversity, and no one took action. The key to change is to listen and then to keep listening.”

In response, Yorkshire said in a statement to ESPNcricinfo: “We recognise that county clubs, with their vast pipeline of talent across age groups, are crucial to ensuring equality and addressing issues of racism in cricket. We wholeheartedly support the recently announced ECB initiatives and want to be part of meaningful change across all levels of the game.

“In addition to the ECB measures, we will also seek to implement the recommendations due to be made by the independent investigation panel considering the allegations made by our former player, Azeem Rafiq. We appreciate that this is a distressing time for all involved, but this is an important investigation and we have committed to a full and thorough process to provide an in-depth set of recommendations which we will publish in early 2021.

“Cricket is enjoyed by diverse audiences throughout the UK and around the world but it is clear that we must do much more to improve inclusion, address issues of inequality and truly reflect and embrace the many communities who contribute so much to our sport.”



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West Indies vs South Africa

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19-year-old quick has big future, says captain, after three-wicket debut

Despite slumping to an innings defeat before lunch on the third day of the first Test in St Lucia, West Indies had one undoubted silver lining in the form of their debutant fast bowler, Jayden Seales, whose fiery performance in a losing cause hinted at a hugely promising future in the sport.

Seales, 19, had played just one first-class game before he was thrust into the Test team against South Africa – and that came last winter on West Indies’ tour of New Zealand – but Kraigg Brathwaite, the captain, said he saw enough in that display to know he was ready for higher honours.

“The first time I saw him was in New Zealand, and I just knew he had a natural length,” Brathwaite said. “Not all bowlers have that natural length, and he obviously swings the ball. So I was not surprised by his performance in this game, or for the future.”

Seales finished South Africa’s only innings of the first Test with figures of 3 for 75 in 21 overs, having bagged his maiden wicket in his first over of the game, as Keegan Petersen spliced an edge to Jason Holder at second slip. He followed up with two more in consecutive overs at the end of the first day, before Quinton de Kock took the match away with a superb 141 not out.

“I think he’s something special and obviously he’s quite young, he’s only played one first-class game,” Brathwaite said. “That says a lot. Even at practice, there are different little things that he does with the ball, and what he says to back it up, is quite phenomenal. For sure, he’s one for the future, big time.



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PSL 2021 – Islamabad United’s Hasan Ali to miss rest of season

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The fast bowler will fly back to Pakistan for personal reasons

Hasan Ali will not feature in the remainder of the PSL season. The Islamabad United fast bowler will leave the tournament bubble in the UAE and return to Pakistan “due to family concerns”.

“I want to say to all Islamabad United fans, unfortunately due to personal reasons I have to pull out of the remaining PSL matches,” Hasan said in an Islamabad United statement. “Some things are more important than cricket and nothing is more important than family. I am thankful to Islamabad United for their support and understanding. This team truly is a family that stands with you through thick and thin. I wish the team very best of luck for the remaining PSL matches.”

Hasan’s absence will be a blow to Islamabad, who are currently second on the PSL table with eight points from six matches. Hasan is the joint third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament as on Saturday evening, with 10 wickets at an average of 14.00, and, even more impressively, an economy rate of 5.83 across 24 overs.

“We understand Hasan’s situation right now, family always comes first,” Islamabad captain Shadab Khan said. “We wish Hasan the very best of luck. He will obviously be a huge loss to our team and the tournament, but some things are more important than cricket. At Islamabad United we have always looked after each other like a family and we will continue to do so.”



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Recent Match Report – SE Stars vs Diamonds 2021

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England great plays her part in three-wicket win as she revels in new mindset

Northern Diamonds 254 for 7 (Kalis 76, Langston 59* Gunn 50) beat South East Stars 250 for 6 (White 73) by three wickets with four balls remaining

It is half-past ten on a perfect June morning at Emerald Headingley and Sarah Taylor squats down in readiness for the first ball of a cricket match. This is something she will have done hundreds of times, for in addition to club and county games Taylor has played ten Tests, 126 one-day internationals and 90 T20Is for England. And even since her retirement from international cricket in September 2019, she has kept wicket for Sussex Women in a few T20 games. This is rather different, though, because Taylor is making her debut for the Northern Diamonds against South East Stars in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

This is a higher-profile, professional game, the type of match Taylor was not sure she would ever play again. But earlier this year she agreed to play for Welsh Fire in The Hundred and she is plainly satisfied that returning to the game will no longer risk harming her mental health. Playing cricket, you see, is now only one of the things Sarah Taylor does. There is teaching at Bede’s in East Sussex; there is coaching at the County Ground in Hove, where she works with the full-time professional wicketkeepers and the Academy players; there is, in other words, a balanced life.

“I don’t see myself as Sarah Taylor the cricketer anymore,” she told ESPNcricinfo in January. “I just see myself as Sarah. It’s just a really healthy place to be.”

The first ball is bowled by Beth Langston and Bryony Smith plays it out to midwicket where Ami Campbell trots in to field. Already Sarah is up at the stumps to collect the return, although there is not the remotest possibility of a run. A pattern has been set, one that will be familiar to wicketkeepers of whatever standard throughout the game.

The eighth delivery of the morning is bowled by Phoebe Graham and it jags back a little to Alice Davidson-Richards, whose cut is now a cramped ungainly effort. The ball would have passed over middle stump and down leg side but it catches Davidson-Richards’ glove and flies between wicketkeeper and first slip. Taylor has transferred her weight to her left but dives back, holds the ball in her right gauntlet… and spills it. It would have been a stunning grab. There is little more she could have done except hang on to the thing.

“I had it!” she said afterwards. “It was literally in my webbing and I just hit the deck. The girls will tell you I was talking about it when we were batting. I did the hard work and I was thinking, ‘Yes, stunner!’ and then my elbow hit the ground and it popped out. But to be fair, it was nice to get there. I felt rusty, believe me, but it was just nice to dust the cobwebs off. Legs, back, hands…Yeah, pretty happy with that. That was good fun.”

After that eighth ball Taylor returned to the more routine habits and skills of her chosen trade. Over the next three hours she squatted down over 300 times and the ball was returned to her after the vast majority of deliveries. It frequently went to her directly, of course, and her takes were clean, unfussy, professional. There is never a point in an innings when wicketkeepers are not involved in the game and Taylor was constantly encouraging, congratulating or commiserating with her new colleagues. She was the focus around which the Northern Diamonds’ efforts revolved. In the 48th over there was a stumping off Jenny Gunn that Taylor clearly thought was a decent shout but Tom Lungley took a different view. South East Stars scored 250 for 6 in 50 overs and 14 of the runs came from wides. There were no byes.



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