Yorkshire CCC fans forum: The questions that need answering

OH to be a fly on the wall at today’s Yorkshire County Cricket Club members’ forum.

We did ask to attend given the interest and issues surrounding Yorkshire at present, but the club wanted to keep the event at Headingley for members only.

So, what questions are likely to be asked of new chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel, managing director of cricket Darren Gough, acting chief executive Paul Hudson, plus the England and Wales Cricket Board interim chair Barry O’Brien and ECB non-executive director Martin Darlow?

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“Where do you start?” might be a better question, following a period best described as chaotic and at worst catastrophic.

Question time for Yorkshire's new managing director of cricket Darren Gough

Although Yorkshire want to move the conversation forward from the past few months, and understandably so, this is the first time that they will have addressed their members since the crisis exploded, since when they have done only one round of media interviews (with Lord Patel) and there has been no chance to interview players or coaches.

It is commonly held that you have to understand the past before you can contemplate the present, and there are a lot of Yorkshire members, to judge from my own experience and conversations with them, who urgently want answers before moving on.

The thing that keeps cropping up time and again is this: why did the club feel it necessary to sack its entire coaching and backroom staff – in other words, the 14 people who signed a letter to the board in protest at its handling of the racism crisis?

It was a letter marked “private and confidential”, and although snippets found their way into the public domain, it was a group of people outlining their collective grievances, concerns and frustrations. Some only joined the club after the alleged incidents occurred.

Lord Kamlesh Patel, who was appointed as the new chair of Yorkshire, faces questions from the membership for the first time today (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

As Dan Waddell, author and son of the legendary darts commentator Sid wrote on Twitter: “I might be wrong, but firing a load of junior coaching and support staff who had no role in the Azeem Rafiq scandal but are now tainted by it, might turn out to be the worst and most costly decision of the series of terrible ones Yorkshire have made.”

Rafiq had demanded nothing less than “a total clear-out”, but who is running Yorkshire? Is it Rafiq, the board, the ECB, politicians, PR companies or a combination of all?

Like Waddell, and I suspect many Yorkshire members, that decision left a particularly sour taste and smacks more of being seen to do the right thing than actually doing it. If Rafiq’s treatment was unjust, as some say it was, could not the same be said of those summarily dismissed for expressing a view? Over to Lord Patel...

Yorkshire members may further want to know, given former chairman Colin Graves’s revelation to this newspaper last week that he was not even interviewed as part of the racism investigation, on what basis that investigation has any credibility anyway given the myriad flaws that have since come to light with it?

Azeem Rafiq giving evidence at the inquiry into racism he suffered at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) (Picture: PA)

As Robin Smith, Steve Denison and Stewart Regan were also not interviewed, it means that no chairman or chief executive during Rafiq’s time at the club – apart from Mark Arthur, who was directly accused – was spoken to at any stage; in other words, no-one who was actually running the club.

That is a quite extraordinary state of affairs given the extreme seriousness of the allegations and the subsequent impact of them, and I understand that Yorkshire operations officials were also not interviewed despite upheld allegations concerning the handling of complaints of racism heard in the crowd during games.

What is going on? It seems that there were more holes in this probe than the 4,000 in Blackburn, Lancashire, in the Beatles’ song A Day in the Life, with Graves dismissing the report as “a waste of space, a waste of paper”.

Members will want answers to myriad matters.

Can somebody put a rough figure on how much this crisis is likely to cost the club financially? How many employment tribunals are currently underway or in the offing relating to the sacked staff? Are reports of widespread disaffection among the players true or are they false? Are any players likely to leave because of what’s happened and/or have they asked to leave?

What is the current state of the ECB investigation into Yorkshire, a question which my own enquiries to the governing body have failed to elicit an answer? Who is being interviewed as a part of it? Will a full report be published at the end of it? And so on.

Proposed changes to the make-up of the Yorkshire board will also be discussed today, another sticking point for some, and the subject of a forthcoming EGM.

So many questions, so much to talk about.

Oh to be that fly on the wall.