Yorkshire should not receive points deductions due to the racism scandal, says head coach Ottis Gibson
As his team headed into a second successive season still uncertain whether they will suffer sanctions as a result of the scandal, the Yorkshire head coach argued that points deductions would serve no useful purpose.
The Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) has the power to impose penalties across any domestic competition, with sanctions against Yorkshire and those individuals found liable in the wake of allegations raised by the club’s former player, Azeem Rafiq, expected to be held between April 17 and May 24.
The matter is complicated by the outcry that attended sanctions imposed on Durham for financial irregularities in 2016, when the north-east club was relegated in the County Championship, docked 48 points for the following year, handed further points penalties in the limited-overs tournaments and stripped of Test status, a move widely viewed as disproportionate.
Two wrongs do not make a right, of course, and as Yorkshire prepared for their opening Championship game against Leicestershire at Headingley on Thursday, Gibson said: “If we’re moving on, we’re moving on, and therefore you should wipe the slate clean and let’s just get on with it.
"I don’t see what a sanction, certainly in terms of points, would prove. It doesn’t seem to me to make much sense.
“People talk about Durham, but the two situations were very different. It would seem wrong, when everybody’s trying to move on from all the stuff that’s been going on for so long, and especially for this group of young players now, to be punished for something that they had no real part in.”
Gibson said that the prevailing uncertainty would “not derail us from the way that we’ve prepared for the season”.
In terms of sanctions, he said that Yorkshire will “just cross that bridge when we come to it”, adding: “We just want to get back to playing cricket.”
Perhaps the only good thing to come from a crisis that has left the sport far more divisive and toxic than it was previously is a heightened perception of language.
Gibson described it as “an awareness thing” in a changing world.
“You see the way the world’s going at the moment,” he said. “I guess language has always been important, with the language of the 60s and 70s in some ways unacceptable now in the 2000s, and therefore we have to be very cautious and very aware of the language we’re using nowadays.
“You would like to think that after two years or more of going through this process, everybody has learnt enough from it to make sure that it doesn’t happen again, and that’s what everybody wants.
"Everybody that’s involved in cricket wants to feel part of this great game.”
Reflecting on his own career, first as a respected fast bowler for the West Indies and various counties, and now as a coach with a vast bank of experience all around the world, Gibson said: “I’ve been lucky in my life. Have I experienced racism? I’ve experienced language. I’ve experienced language that makes you think, ‘Well, do I let it offend or upset me?’
“If somebody said something to me that I didn’t like… well, first of all, there was never really any avenue to report anything back in the day, so nowadays there is and that’s part of the education that Michael Holding has been talking about.
“But I was always of the opinion that if somebody did say something then I, as a fast bowler, always had a retort, you know.
“I could bowl six bouncers and try and sort my own issues out, so I managed myself.”