Colin Graves reiterates his apologies over racism crisis as Yorkshire CCC looks to move forward

SORRY seems to be the hardest word – unless you’re Colin Graves, who apologised again to anyone who had experienced racism or discrimination at Yorkshire CCC at the latest political hearing into cricket’s worst crisis.

Speaking at the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) select committee hearing in London on Tuesday, Graves repeated his contrition to those who had suffered, including the former Yorkshire player, Azeem Rafiq.

He also apologised again for using the word “banter” in a television interview on the subject last year.

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Graves, who was Yorkshire chair during Rafiq’s first spell at the club, returned to the role earlier this month – hence his appearance as part of a game-wide hearing before MPs, three of whom – chair Dame Caroline Dinenage, Clive Efford and Alex Sobel – had made advance negative comment about his return.

Colin Graves reiterated his apologies at the CMS hearing following the racism crisis at Yorkshire CCC. Photo: PA Wire.Colin Graves reiterated his apologies at the CMS hearing following the racism crisis at Yorkshire CCC. Photo: PA Wire.
Colin Graves reiterated his apologies at the CMS hearing following the racism crisis at Yorkshire CCC. Photo: PA Wire.

Graves was pressed again on the “banter” remark, saying: “At the time, I didn’t realise the insensitivity of that word.

“Again, since then, I’ve apologised for using that word. I apologise again. I should not have used it. It was a bad judgement from my point of view. I then apologised for what had gone on in Yorkshire and (what) people had experienced.”

Asked whether he had apologised to Rafiq directly, Graves said: “I’ve apologised in my statements to everybody who experienced this and, to Mr Rafiq, I haven’t apologised to him personally, no.

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“If I had the opportunity to talk to him, then fine, I would do, because he should not have experienced what he experienced.”

“So you put an apology to him on record here today?” pressed Clive Efford.

“I put an apology out to him for what he experienced, yes,” replied Graves.

On a day when John Nicholson, the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, said that Rafiq’s family home had been attacked only last week, Graves repeated that no allegations of racism were made to him during his first incarnation as Yorkshire chair.

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“The way I ran the club previously, maybe the processes weren’t thorough enough to record those kind of things, if it happened, and when it happened,” he admitted.

“From my point of view, I never heard anything about racism through any management meeting, any board meeting.

“It was never brought to my attention.”

Graves said he was committed “200 per cent” to continuing the EDI work of the previous board, most of whose members he said had to go because of their lack of “cricket knowledge”.

He refuted suggestions that sponsors had left because of his return, saying “there’s six new sponsors who want to talk to us”, and revealed that £2m had already been put into the club by the new regime, with £4m to follow in the next three months.

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Of his own future, Graves, 76, said: “My intention is once I have got the business on a stable footing financially, and we’ve got the right management team and board, I will be looking to exit that position as soon as possible.

“Two to three years maximum. As soon as I can get all that in place, I will step down.”

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