England, England Test Team
England test team. (Photo: AFP)

With less than three weeks to go for the Ashes series in Australia, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has asked its players to not speak to the media for now, following the revelations of the racism issue by Azeem Rafiq.

Azeem Rafiq’s testimony to a parliamentary hearing about racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club has shaken English cricket. Rafiq’s spoke to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee, recounting the shocking instances of racist treatment he had suffered over the years at Yorkshire.

Rafiq alleged that Gary Ballance and Alex Hales had been using the term ‘Kevin’ for black people with the latter also naming his black dog as ‘Kevin’.

Joe Root
Joe Root. (Photo: Twitter)

Also, a number of players currently in England’s squad for the Ashes series play their county cricket at Rafiq’s former club, including Jonny Bairstow and captain Joe Root.

Joe Root is a good man, he’s never engaged in racist language: Azeem Rafiq

Speaking about racism at Yorkshire, Rafiq termed England captain Joe Root as a “good man” who was never part of that racist culture. However, he found Root’s comments that he never witnessed racism at Yorkshire as “hurtful”.

When was asked if he had seen any incidents of racism at the club, Joe Root said: “Not that I can recall, no I can’t.”

Rafiq said that the remark was “strange”, but only emphasized how “normal” the use of such language was at the club.

Azeem Rafiq[photo: Twitter]

“To be clear, Root is a good man. He’s never engaged in racist language. I found [his statement] hurtful, because Rooty was not only Gary’s housemate but, before he started playing for England, he was involved in a lot of those socialising nights out where I’d been called a P**i,” Rafiq said.

“He might not remember it, but it just shows how normal it was in that environment, in that institution, that even a good man like him doesn’t see it for what it is. It was strange, but it’s the environment and the institution that made it such a norm that people don’t remember it. And it’s not going to affect Joe. It’s something I remember every day. But I don’t expect Joe to.”

Australian cricket is also in a state of shock as Tim Paine has stepped down from Test captaincy after the emergence of the explicit messages to a female co-worker from four years ago.

The 2021/22 Ashes is set to start on December 8 in Brisbane.

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