Root owes much of his success as one of the world’s best batsmen to the tutelage that he received at Headingley under some of the coaches and managers now enbroiled in the unforgivable mistreatment of Rafiq and, potentially, others as club chief executive Mark Arthur belatedly resigns.But the 30-year-old Yorkshireman, currently preparing for an Ashes series in Australia, also knew that he owed it to all victims of discrimination – and his sport – to put his abhorrence on the record after Yorkshire’s inquiry still upheld seven of Rafiq’s claims before it was decided, unconscionably, that no disciplinary action should follow.
“There is no debate about racism, no one side or other. It is simply intolerable,” said Root in the week that Yorkshire CCC paid a six-figure sum to Rafiq ahead of a Parliamentary inquiry that will further embarrass the club and expose major flaws in the sport’s governance.
“These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart. I want to see change and actions that will see YCCC rise from this with a culture that harnesses a diverse environment with trust across all communities that support cricket in the county.”
Words made even more powerful by both Root’s stature in the game, and his past support of Rafiq as a team-mate, the England captain’s desire to assist Lord Kamlesh Patel, the new chair of YCCC, is a welcome one at a club now widely regarded to be institutionally racist.
As such, it is to be hoped that Joe Root’s example – both on and off the pitch – can also be the catalyst for lasting societal change at a moment of crisis when cricket’s united response to racism will matter more than the Ashes result this winter. It’s that profound.