Former Yorkshire captain Azeem Rafiq endured a hard time at the county club and he is not proud of everything he had to face during his stint. Azeem Rafiq, a Pakistan-born, cricketer was subject to racism during his time with Yorkshire. There were days, so difficult to handle, that Azeem even came close to suicide.
Azeem said that although he was living the dream of his family, everyday, he was dying a bit more from inside. He also said that there were times that he tried to fit in as a Muslim cricketer but no regrets it. The former cricketer, who is now away from the action, said that he was treated like an outsider once he tried not to fit in.
“I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire,” he tells ESPNcricinfo. “I was living my family’s dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying. I was dreading going to work. I was in pain every day.
“There were times I did things to try and fit in that, as a Muslim, I now look back on and regret. I’m not proud of it at all.
“But as soon as I stopped trying to fit in, I was an outsider. There were no coaches on the staff from a similar background who understood what it was like.
“Yorkshire don’t want to listen and they don’t want to change. And part of the reason for that is the people who were involved in the incidents I’m talking about are still at the club. They just want to sweep it under the carpet.”
“Look at the facts and figures. Look at a squad photograph. Look at the coaches. How many non-white faces do you see? Despite the ethnic diversity of the cities in Yorkshire, despite the love for the game from Asian communities, how many people from those backgrounds are making it into the first team?
“It’s obvious to anyone who cares that there’s a problem. Do I think there is institutional racism? It’s at its peak in my opinion. It’s worse than it’s ever been.
“My only motivation now is to prevent anyone else feeling the same pain.”
Rafiq made his debut for Yorkshire in June 2009. He went on to play till 2018 for the club despite all the hardships he faced.
The all-rounder featured in 39 FC matches and scored 873 runs at an average of 20. He also scalped 72 wickets with one five-wicket haul to his name.