John Blain demands action after Scotland racism ruling casts doubt on Yorkshire findings

A FORMER Yorkshire player and coach who admitted to suicidal feelings after being accused of using racist language is demanding that the England and Wales Cricket Board reconsiders its “unjust verdict” and clears his name.

John Blain, who played for Yorkshire from 2004 to 2010, and later coached the second team, was accused by Azeem Rafiq of using the P-word in evidence submitted to the ECB investigation into the Yorkshire case.

Blain was fined £2,500, formally reprimanded and recommended to undertake a racism/discrimination course at his own expense by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC), when it ruled against him in the charges brought by the governing body against the club and seven individuals heard last year.

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The key corroborative evidence cited by the CDC in its decision against Blain was an allegation made by Majid Haq, his former Scotland team-mate, that he used the P-word during a tour to Kenya in 2007. The CDC said it found that evidence “credible and reliable”.

John Blain in action during his Yorkshire days. Picture by Vaughn Ridley/SWPIX.comJohn Blain in action during his Yorkshire days. Picture by Vaughn Ridley/SWPIX.com
John Blain in action during his Yorkshire days. Picture by Vaughn Ridley/SWPIX.com

However, on Monday, Blain published a letter which showed that Cricket Scotland had cleared him of the same allegation - along with all and various claims against him - as far back as January.

The 45-year-old former pace bowler was asked to sit on it, however, while Cricket Scotland communicated the outcomes of the so-called Changing the Boundaries report to the various complainants, saying he has now been “forced to go public after five months of delay and prevarication”. Blain wants “a full and transparent inquiry” into the actions of Cricket Scotland and sportscotland, the national agency for sport in the country, and the ECB to revisit his case.

In a statement, he said: “Crucially, the in-depth Scottish investigation did not accept Majid’s allegation that I had used the P-word during a tour to Kenya in 2007. That’s the exact same allegation the England and Wales Cricket Board panel used to support their finding against me.

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“Majid’s false allegation was used as corroboration of Azeem Rafiq’s equally untrue allegation and was central to the ECB verdict against me, which must now be deemed unsafe. What’s worse, the ECB tribunal stated that because I had not engaged with their flawed process, they were entitled to conclude that I had no answer to the allegations against me.

“The ECB failed to take proper account of clear evidence from four different players - who each provided sworn statements that the incident had not occurred - saying their evidence was ‘untested’, despite the fact that Majid’s account was also completely untested.

“Their reasoning was lazy and made no attempt to reconcile Majid’s account with the contradictory evidence of four other witnesses. The fact that the year-long Scottish investigation has completely exonerated me fatally undermines the ECB process and must force them to reconsider their unjust verdict and clear my name.”

In its findings against Blain, the CDC said it was satisfied, “on the balance of probabilities”, that he was guilty in light of Rafiq and Haq’s evidence, plus the separate admissions by former players Gary Ballance and Matthew Hoggard that they had used discriminatory language in the wider environment.

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An ECB spokesperson told The Yorkshire Post: “The Cricket Discipline Commission upheld the charge against John Blain for using racist language at Yorkshire in or around 2010 and 2011 after considering all the evidence before it, including Mr Blain’s defence and a number of supporting witness statements filed by him (through his then legal team) before he withdrew from the process. He declined the opportunity to appear before the Commission.”

Blain said the ECB had “badly mishandled these allegations and the wider process”.

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