• Saturday, June 22, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Asian cricketers feel like ‘outsiders’ in English game

By: Sarwar Alam

South Asians feel “like outsiders” even in grassroots cricket, a senior figure in a Yorkshire league told MPs on Tuesday (7) as the English game grapples with a racism scandal.

Former Yorkshire county player Azeem Rafiq gave harrowing testimony to the same committee of MPs last month, saying his career had been ended by the abuse he received at the club.

There have also been allegations of racism made by other players, setting in motion additional investigations at Yorkshire and other county clubs.

Adil Mehmood, the executive finance officer of the Quaid e Azam Premier Cricket League, which mostly comprises players from a South Asian background, told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee there were problems with integration.

“Within the grassroots level, I play in the Bradford League,” he said. “Honestly you feel like an outsider — you never gel with the team.

“This is the mindset and the culture within the teams and club and it has been accepted. I’ve played for three different clubs and I have always felt (like an) outsider, I have never felt part of the team.”

Mehmood also talked about the drop-off in representation of Asian players within the grassroots game compared with the professional level — from more than 30 percent down to just four percent.

He said as a 17-year-old he saw lots of younger, talented players from the Asian community, but had not seen anyone progress to county level.

“They were talented enough,” he said. “I don’t know what is wrong within the system that they are not making it through.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board last month launched an anti-racism action plan in response to the Rafiq scandal.

In another development, the Professional Cricketers’ Association said it been encouraged by the “healthy culture” in the first-class academies it had visited so far as part of an inclusivity education programme.

The PCA initiative, which has the support of former West Indies paceman and anti-discrimination campaigner Michael Holding, will ultimately be delivered to all 18 first-class academies.

“It has been overwhelmingly positive and inspiring to see such a healthy culture in our academies,” said PCA lead personal development manager Charlie Mulraine.

“There’s an understanding that healthy banter is important, but there’s a balance and understanding of where the boundaries are in supportive environments.

“Recent news stories have highlighted that cricket needs to have a look at itself, and education is at the heart of that as we’ve seen from these sessions.”

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