Things have continued to get worse for English county Yorkshire in the wake of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, with its former players and employees coming out in the open and backing Azeem Rafiq’s claims of ‘institutional racism’ at the club.
The latest to delve into the issue are former Yorkshire employees- Taj Butt and Tony Bowry. According to a report published in ESPNCricinfo, the former employees have given evidence against the county club institutionalizing racism.
Citing a reference to Indian Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, Butt, who was employed within Yorkshire Cricket Foundation as a community development officer, revealed that every cricketer of color including Pujara was referred to as ‘Steve’ since they could not pronounce his name.
Butt also revealed that there was a continuous reference to taxi drivers and restaurant workers while referring to the Asian community.
(There were) continuous references to taxi drivers and restaurant workers when referring to (the) Asian community. 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.”
Meanwhile, Tony Bowry, who worked as a cultural diversity officer at the Yorkshire Cricket Board between 1996-2011, said that the unwelcoming environment in the dressing room made it pretty difficult for youngsters coming into the Yorkshire set-up to make progress in their respective careers.
“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. It affected performance… they were labelled trouble-makers.” Bowry said.
The whole issue started when former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq, who left the club in 2018, accused it of nearly driving him to commit suicide due to institutionalized racism that he experienced at the club. Following his revelations, former players like Tino Best and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan testified to Rafiq’s claims
“Part of the problem I faced was that my concerns and complaints fell on deaf ears. 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.” Azeem Rafiq had said.