• Monday, May 27, 2024

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Exclusive: Out of touch Sunak needs to speak with us, says Essex ex-cricketer

The peer told a podcast that he thought the England and Wales Cricket Board’s inquiry into racism, misogyny and elitism was a “waste of money”

GAME PLAN: Rishi Sunak watches the action at Lord’s during the second Test in the recent Ashes series (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

By: Barnie Choudhury

A former cricketer has criticised the prime minister’s decision not to intervene on Lord Botham’s comments about racism in the sport.

The peer told a podcast that he thought the England and Wales Cricket Board’s inquiry into racism, misogyny and elitism was a “waste of money”.

Eastern Eye reported earlier this month that the ECB refused to investigate him for bringing the game into disrepute.

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, spoke with Eastern Eye on the fringes of a religious event in Cambridge on Tuesday (15).

He is well-known for being a cricket fan, and he praised the ECB for starting an inquiry into racism in the game.

“What I think me having this job is living proof of our country and how it approaches these issues.

“I’ve spoken about this in the past and some of the things that happened to me, when I was younger, I’m pretty confident saying I don’t think would happen to my kids today, which is a sign of the progress that we’ve made as a country.

“We should always strive to do better, and I was talking about cricket, which is a sport that I love dearly, as I’m sure many of your readers and many people here do.

“To read about that sport, in the way that it was described, and the racism that people had experienced was incredibly sad.

“It’s the ECB whose job it is to take the actions that are required to improve things which they are doing.

“They commissioned the report in the first place, which was a good step, and the government will rightly hold them to account for delivering on it.”

Anti-racism campaign

Eastern Eye has been at the forefront of a campaign examining institutional, structural and systemic racism in Britain.

We have examined the experiences of black and Asian doctors in the National Health Service; judges of colour have told this newspaper about their experiences in the judiciary; and the ineffectiveness of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in tackling blatant discrimination.

The PM said he would not intervene in asking for the regulators to investigate Botham’s comments.

And when our reporter challenged the prime minister that not everyone in the UK had zero tolerance against racism, he disagreed.

“I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “I think everyone has zero tolerance for racism and rightly so.

“But in sport, it’s right that the ECB take time to reflect on the recommendations and respond fully and comprehensively, which is what they’re doing.

“And I think collectively, they will, we’ll hold them to account for that.”

‘Ignorant prime minister’

The former Essex cricketer, Jahid Ahmed, faced racial slurs at the hands of a teammate who repeatedly called him a “curry muncher”.

He is still waiting for his ex-club to publish a report into his allegations.

Earlier this month Eastern Eye revealed Ahmed was still waiting for answers two years after his original complaint.

The club never answered our questions about why the report, being led by a barrister, Katharine Newton KC, was taking so long.

Jahid Ahmed (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Ahmed told this newspaper the prime minister was ignorant of the racism in his own country.

“I’m very disappointed that the prime minister doesn’t feel more strongly about racism in the country he’s leading.

“Leaving it to the ECB appears like a cop out to me, and it seems to me that people off privilege don’t seem to understand the effects of racism.

“He’s wrapped up in cotton wool and is pretty much a person who doesn’t understand normal people like ourselves, who’ve been through tough times, he wouldn’t know anything about that.

“He’s definitely out of touch without a doubt, for him to actually say that the ECB are doing a great job, what great job have they been doing?”

This week (14) police in Scotland arrested a 63-year-old man and charged him for racial abuse at a cricket match in Greenock.

Cricket Scotland said it was investigating an incident which took place on Saturday, following claims that an umpire, Majid Haq, faced racism.

“I can’t believe that this still goes on,” said Ahmed.

“What actions are taking place?” asked the former cricketer.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s anything happening, and it’s getting worse, in my opinion, those people are in denial on these sorts of things, and it’s not going well.”

Ahmed called for Sunak to sit down with Azeem Rafique, the former Yorkshire captain who blew the whistle on his experiences at the club, and others in the game who had faced racism and discrimination.

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