On Tuesday, Joe Root, England's Test captain, reacted to the racism controversy which has gripped the county of Yorkshire, saying the recent events at the club has fractured the game and torn lives apart. Last week, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had suspended Yorkshire from hosting international matches over handling the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq.
"In my capacity as England captain and as a senior player at Yorkshire, I feel compelled to address the current situation that has consumed the sport and YCCC. I just want the sport to be a place where everyone is enjoying it for the beautiful game it is and feels equal and safe. It hurts knowing this has happened at YCCC so close to home. It's my club that I care passionately about it. I've spent a lot of time reflecting. There is no debate about racism, no one side or other. It is simply intolerable," said Root in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
"These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart. We must now recover and come back together as fans, players, media, and those who work within cricket. We have an opportunity to make the sport I love better for everyone. I want to see change and actions that will see YCCC rise from this with a culture that harnesses a diverse environment with trust across all communities that support cricket in the county. We have to find a way to move forward and make sure this never happens again. In my opinion, this is a societal issue and needs addressing further afield than just cricket," he added.
The Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) in September this year had said Rafiq, during his first spell as a player at YCCC, was the victim of racial harassment and bullying. ECB found Yorkshire County's report "wholly unacceptable" and the board said the matter is "against the spirit of cricket and its values".
"That being said, we, as a sport, all have to do more. How can we all help shape things moving forward positively? What can everyone from myself, the ECB, counties, players, officials and others in the sport do to improve the state of the game? I certainly don't have all the answers, but I think we need to educate more and earlier; we must call it out straight away and have our eyes and ears open more," he said.
"Inclusivity, diversity and anti-discrimination is something over the past few years the England teams I have been involved in have spent a lot of time talking about and are very passionate about improving and making a big difference. It's a big part of our culture, and we want to celebrate our diversity. We are representing England, and in that, we are representing the multicultural society we live in. We want all the fans to be able to enjoy what we do on the field and feel proud about who's representing them. With the Ashes fast approaching, I'd really like the fans back home to unite and get behind us as a team. We will be playing for you all," he added.
The ECB Board has asked the ECB Executive to commission a review of Yorkshire CCC's governance to consider whether the existing arrangements are fit for purpose. Meanwhile, the regulatory processes are already underway into the allegations brought by Azeem Rafiq which will be ultimately determined by an independent tribunal (The Cricket Disciplinary Committee).
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