Majid Haq feeling rare optimism about the future of Scottish cricket

Former Scotland international Majid Haq feels rare optimism about the future of his sport after the appointment of Anjan Luthra as Cricket Scotland chair.

Luthra is the first person to be appointed to the board since the mass resignations that immediately preceded the publication a damning report into racism in the organisation in July.

Public comments from Haq and former Scotland team-mate Qasim Sheikh had prompted the independent review, which discovered 448 instances of institutional racism.

The two former players met with interim chief executive Gordon Arthur on Friday to express concerns that progress into reforming the governing body had been too slow.

Cricket Scotland
Gordon Arthur (right), with former cricketers Majid Haq (left) and Qasim Sheikh (second left) following a meeting at the offices of Aamer Anwar & Co (Andrew Milligan)

A positive meeting followed and both were especially pleased to hear of the new appointment.

Luthra is a former Scotland youth international at both tennis and cricket who qualified as a chartered account and worked in venture capital. He now runs London-based global media business RAMP, which he found himself.

He is also a former Ferguslie team-mate of Haq, who told the PA news agency: “It’s one of the first days I have been quite positive about Scottish cricket for a long, long time. I hope he can carry the hope forward over the next couple of years and I’m pretty confident he can.

“He is young, very ambitious and has done a lot in his life already. He comes from a good family, has good morals, and is extremely competitive and will want the best.

Majid Haq
Majid Haq welcomed the appointment (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“He will aim for the top and that’s what we need in Scottish cricket because there is a lot of potential there.”

Luthra earlier stated that he was honoured to be appointed.

He added on Twitter: “I have been deeply upset about what the victims have been through. It is unacceptable. There are huge fundamental problems to tackle. I will be working tirelessly to rebuild the organisation. Excited for an ambitious future.”

Lawyer Aamer Anwar also attended the meeting and relayed concerns that victims of racism were having to repeat the often traumatic process of giving evidence to the independent groups investigating the 68 complaints that were initially made to the report authors.

“We expressed significant concerns on the robustness of investigation being carried out, they must have access to all the evidence from Plan4Sport,” he said.

“Importantly Gordon advised that Plan4Sport is still taking complaints and the door remains open.”

Anwar welcomed plans to set up a panel for conduct in sport, calling it “an important step in assuring consistency in discipline, equality and eradicating the old boy’s network”.

But he added: “It is clear that Cricket Scotland remains hugely under-resourced and it is for sportscotland to wake up to this, the massive hole in cricket funding needs resolved, if the promises made to the victims of racism are not betrayed.”

Haq will continue to push for change.

“They need funding and a bit of help but they also need to utilise their resources much better than they have done in the past and just to really branch themselves out,” he said.

“Obviously it’s been a tough few months for them but it’s been a tough few months for us as well.

“We are looking for cricket in Scotland to be successful, we will be watching them in the World Cup.

“After the investigation, we could have left it there but we are still fighting away. We want the best for the next generation coming forwards.”

Qasim Sheikh
Former Scotland player Qasim Sheikh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Sheikh added that they had received assurances from Arthur.

He added: “We discussed the fact that, as much as this is a dark moment, it could be a great opportunity to lead the way in Scottish sport when it comes to institutional racism.

“Another reason why I am excited about Anjan’s appointment, he has good business acumen, has good contacts. There is opportunity to go to other corporate people and businesses who might be interested in getting involved.

“The Scottish women’s team don’t have any contracted players. There needs to be funding to support equality in that space as well.”

Arthur described it as a “really constructive meeting”.

He added: “There is progress being made in Cricket Scotland but there is a huge amount more work to do and we are really committed to working with Running Out Racism, with Aamer, Qasim and Majid and everybody else to make sure it is a welcoming sport for everybody and it is a robust and leading governing body of sport in Scotland.”