Cricket’s recent reckoning continues to throw up depressing instances of how the game is institutionally mired in these ills.
Former England batter Alex Hales has apologised after painting his face black for a New Year’s Eve party in 2009.
Azeem Rafiq – whose own allegations of more than a year and subsequent emotive testimony about his time at Yorkshire to Parliament has blown open the issue – said there are “absolutely no excuses” for anti-Semitism he posted in Facebook messages in 2011.
Anyone using the latter example to downplay the problem is, of course, missing the point. If anything, the discovery of those posts underlines the perpetrator’s belief that the sport is institutionally racist. In all likelihood, victims will keep coming forward.
New leadership is needed at the top of the game. The England and Wales Cricket Board needs to conduct some serious soul-searching and consider – given that this prejudicial culture has festered under its watch – who is best placed to move the sport forward.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston warned on Thursday that cricket had to get its house in order to tackle discrimination and said the “nuclear option” would be to introduce an independent regulator.
For many sports fans, there is no greater pleasure than the sound of leather on willow. But the game must be inclusive and spread joy from the changing rooms right up to the stands.
The County wants its game back.