This article contains comments some readers may find upsetting; protected by parliamentary privilege, Azeem Rafiq has been revealing all aspects of his wide-ranging allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club without fear of any legal reprisal
Azeem Rafiq was in tears recalling racism
Former England batter Gary Ballance admitted using a “racial slur” towards Rafiq in a lengthy statement issued earlier this month, apologising but framing it as part of a long and deep friendship.
Rafiq told the committee that was not an accurate depiction of their relationship, saying it went downhill from 2013 onwards and had become toxic by 2017.
Rafiq described his experience on a 2017 pre-season tour: “We were in a place and Gary Ballance walks over and goes, ‘Why are you talking to him? You know he’s a p***’. This happened in front of team-mates. It happened in front of coaching staff.”
Being called ‘Kevin’
Asked by chair Julian Knight about the term ‘Kevin’, Rafiq said it was an offensive, racist term that reached the very top of the game.
“Kevin was a something Gary (Ballance) used to describe anyone of colour in a very derogatory manner. It was an open secret in the England dressing room,” he said.
“Anyone who came across Gary would know that was a phrase he would use to describe people of colour.”
On former England player Alex Hales
“Gary and Alex Hales got really close to each other when they played for England together. I wasn’t present in that dressing room, but what I understand (is) that Alex went on to name his dog ‘Kevin’ because it was black. It’s disgusting how much of a joke it was.”
On England Test captain Joe Root
Root released a statement on the scandal calling for lasting change at Headingley. However, his claim that he could not recall witnessing examples of racism left Rafiq feeling “incredibly hurt”.
He said: “Rooty is a good man. He never engaged in racist language.
“I found it hurtful because Rooty was Gary (Ballance)’s housemate and had been involved in a lot of the socialising where I was called a ‘p***’.
“It shows how normal it was that even a good man like him doesn’t see it for what it was. It’s not going to affect Joe, but it’s something I remember every day.”
On former England captain Michael Vaughan
Vaughan is named in the independent report into Rafiq’s claims, but has strenuously denied allegations he told four Asian team-mates: “(There’s) too many of your lot, we need to do something about it.”
Rafiq, Adil Rashid and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan all say they remember those words, while the fourth player Ajmal Shahzad has said he cannot recall any racism at the club.
Rafiq told MPs: “Michael might not remember it… three of us, Adil, myself and Rana remember it.
“He clearly had a snippet of my statement. He used his platform at the Daily Telegraph to tell everyone he hadn’t said these things. To go on and put a snippet of my statement out and talk about other things, I thought was completely wrong.
“He probably doesn’t remember it because it doesn’t mean anything to him.”
On racism within the wider game
Rafiq said the problem at Yorkshire was replicated “up and down the country”.