Reforms call over cricket racism complaints

A club cricketer who says he was a victim of racist abuse is calling for reforms around how such incidents are tackled in local leagues.

Haider Rasool believes an investigation into the matter was “put under the carpet”.

He has now been invited by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to help it come up with improvements.

“Guys don’t come forward as they have lost faith in the system,” the 37-year-old told the BBC.

The alleged events took place during a South Yorkshire Cricket League game in the summer. The other player involved, who was an ECB employee at the time, was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The club at the centre of the allegations has declined to comment.

Rasool claimed during a heated exchange while he was batting, a member of the opposing team addressed him using a racial slur.

He admits to confronting the man aggressively and the match was abandoned.

Rasool was subsequently punished following a hearing but the alleged racism was not brought up in the initial hearing – because Rasool and his club did not report the incident to the umpires on the day of the match.

David James, who was the chairman of Rasool’s team at the time told the BBC he was unaware of the process at that time.

“But also, I just felt as though everybody knew something had happened,” he added.

Rasool and James also feel there followed “an attempt to close this down,” as the opposing team had also made allegations “and neither could be independently corroborated”, leaving the panel in a difficult position.

James also feels there was a reluctance from some to tackle a complaint which involved an ECB employee with a Yorkshire Cricket Board employee as a team-mate.

“There’s just a lack of courage to confront senior people at a regional level,” James said.

Rasool says the experience has taken a mental toll but he has been handed an opportunity to help change things.

“The ECB have approached me to try and work with them with a group of officials to try and develop strategies, as well as rules, so nobody has to go through this again.”

The ECB last month announced a new equality code of conduct, which it says “will enable discriminatory behaviour to be sanctioned through disciplinary processes”.

“We are currently listening to the experiences of people from across the game, including Mr Rasool, to create a framework that ensures disciplinary hearings are conducted in an open and representative manner,” said the ECB.

The Yorkshire Cricket Board, which carried out a “disciplinary process in accordance with the ECB’s guidelines”, said: “It is clear that reporting processes within the game of cricket could and should be reviewed.”

It said it is working alongside the ECB and the National Asian Cricket Council to examine “the reporting frameworks and guidelines currently in place for the recreational leagues”.

“People told me this has happened to them but they never spoke out as they knew nothing would happen,” Rasool said.

“I want people to come out and speak and I hope this development team that’s starting up will combat these issues.”

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