Institutional weakness and incompetence at heart of Yorkshire CCC racism scandal - Chris Waters comment
But the “live story”, as it were, has now reached a climax. Yorkshire, finally, know where they stand.
After three years of hell, there is no other word for it, there is at least some closure to this wretched affair.
Following the investigation by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) that took so long, over which the independent Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) sat in judgement, Yorkshire have been docked 48 points in the County Championship and four points in the T20 Blast, as well as fined £400,000, of which £300,000 is suspended over two years.
The Championship penalty means that Yorkshire have plunged, at the drop of an email from the ECB, to the foot of Division Two with four games left, 70 points behind Glamorgan in the second and final promotion place, and effectively kills their hopes of returning to Division One.
The T20 punishment is neither here nor there, seeing as that competition is already over and they made no impact in it anyway.
That T20 sanction rather sums up the saga – a complete and utter nonsense from start to finish.
For, when all is said and done, the only serious investigation into the allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire player, was the initial one commissioned by Yorkshire that was heavily flawed and considerably compromised.
Key individuals/witnesses were not spoken to, and the report from its findings was never published; indeed, leaked extracts from the report, printed in The Yorkshire Post, highlighted the enormous discrepancies in the various bits of evidence and what might be termed the accepted narrative; small wonder that the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee declined the chance to publish the report under parliamentary privilege in November 2021, choosing, instead, only to publish Rafiq’s uncontested witness statement to Leeds Employment Tribunal.
The ECB investigation, conducted after it had already pre-judged Yorkshire’s guilt by suspending the club from staging international cricket pending reforms implemented by its own agent of transformation, Lord Kamlesh Patel, the former Yorkshire chairman, was even more unsatisfactory and tarnished at core.
It was on the basis of that investigation, such as it was, and with the help of Lord Patel and others, that the CDC arrived at the decisions announced on Friday afternoon, decisions which were, along with the statements issued by the club and the ECB in response, consequently worthless/unsatisfactory.
For all assume, as their starting position, that the previous culture was rotten to the core, for which absolutely no evidence exists and which is frankly absurd, perpetuating what has been a huge miscarriage of justice and one of the grubbiest episodes in sporting history.
Indeed, it could fairly be argued that the real investigation has yet to take place - the lock, stock and barrel one into the broad sweep of Rafiq’s claims, the egregious conduct of Lord Patel, along with the behaviour of Julian Knight MP and the DCMS select committee, the ECB and various others.
The craven attack on The Yorkshire Post by the DCMS last December has to rank as one of the worst assaults on free speech and essential journalistic scrutiny in the history of our democracy, a spine-chilling moment.
No one has denied that racism exists, or that racist language has been used at Yorkshire, but the key questions are the “who, what, when, where, why” when this miserable saga is viewed in the round, as it simply must be, given the extreme consequences, both personal and financial, and the effective destruction of a cricket club.
At least that “live story” is finally over; that the threat of points penalties had been hanging over the players and coaches for the best part of two seasons was outrageous. Many of those same players knew and played with Rafiq, of course; a sense of injustice will always prevail.
Ultimately, this has been a story of what happens when institutions fail to do their jobs and when key figures are simply not up to scratch. They run away and hide, too scared of the subject matter and of being branded “racist”.
Their incompetence and weakness has helped to destroy many lives and careers.
That should have been the CDC’s decision – the rest is rot.