Azeem Rafiq affair: ECB as guilty as Yorkshire CCC in delivering judgment - Chris Waters

AT SOME point, perhaps even before hell freezes over, the investigation into Yorkshire cricket and the racism saga will potentially conclude.

It was on November 4 that the England and Wales Cricket Board announced that “the regulatory processes already under way into the allegations brought by Azeem Rafiq will ultimately be determined by an independent tribunal (The Cricket Disciplinary Committee)”.

Yet here we are, almost six months later, and no one is any the wiser as to what punishments might be levied against the club and/or individuals or what is going on, leaving the old and new guard alike in limbo.

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If you thought that the Yorkshire investigation dragged its feet, carried out by the international law firm Squire Patton Boggs, then you ain’t seen nothing yet, it seems.

ECB shamed Yorkshire on November 4 for dragging out Azeem Rafiq judgment but still we wait for their own decision (Picture: SWPix.com)

Yorkshire were rightly criticised for that initial investigation which took almost a year to reach its findings. Not least by the ECB, which said in that November 4 statement: “It is clear to the Board that YCCC’s handling of the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq is wholly unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game… This matter must be dealt with robustly if the sport is to demonstrate its commitment to truly being a game for everyone.”

At what point, however, do we conclude that the CDC investigation, a body which sits at arm’s length from the ECB, as the governing body is always so keen to stress, is also wholly unacceptable and causing damage to the game’s reputation? How about now, regardless of whether that investigation concludes imminently.

At least Yorkshire, for all their faults and cack-handed handling, provided sporadic, if wretchedly inept updates as to what was happening, but the ECB/CDC, Siamese twins of seemingly comparable incompetence, have not even done that.

My own basic enquiries – what is going on, when will the investigation be over, who has been interviewed, will a full report be published, and so on – have drawn a resounding blank. It is, I fear, little more than a pointless, cosmetic, box-ticking exercise designed to make it look as if the governing body is doing something. Indeed, how can this investigation possibly arrive at any other conclusion, broadly speaking, to that of the first investigation? Those of the old regime who have given evidence (as I understand it, by no means everyone) strongly disagree with what has happened and what might be described as the accepted narrative.

Azeem Rafiq addressing the DCMS committe in November (Picture: House of Commons/PA Wire)

But even if this investigation saw their side of things, and implying no culpability in any direction, are we to seriously imagine, given everything that’s gone on, that there would be some sudden dramatic rewriting of history? Of course not.

Perhaps this investigation is taking so long because the only way to do it fairly would be to literally start with a blank sheet of paper, with no preconceptions, and to properly interview every single player, coach and official involved at Yorkshire CCC between 2008 and 2018, when Rafiq played for the club, ergo dozens of people.

As that is clearly not happening, and didn’t happen the first time, there have to be as many concerns with the reliability of this investigation as there were with the previous one that was ridiculed by all.

ECB headquarters at Lord's. (Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)