Yorkshire: DCMS committee says EGM ‘first step’ in cricket’s fight against racism

Yorkshire cricket

Key reforms to be voted on at Yorkshire next week should be seen as “the first step” in cricket putting its house in order on racism in the game, according to the chair of a parliamentary committee.

Yorkshire will hold an extraordinary general meeting on March 31 to vote on changes to the structure of the board.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has said the reforms are a key condition of restoring Yorkshire’s right to host lucrative international matches at Headingley this summer, a privilege which it withdrew last year over the county’s handling of racism allegations from former player Azeem Rafiq.

Pressure started to mount on Yorkshire following two aborted previous attempts to hold the EGM after former chairman and current vice-president Robin Smith declared the new chairmanship of Lord Kamlesh Patel invalid.

DCMS monitors Yorkshire

The recommendations of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee report into racism in cricket, published in January, have now been endorsed by the Government, and the committee’s chair Julian Knight said on Thursday: “Our view that sustained action is urgently needed to root out endemic racism in cricket is one that has now received overwhelming support from across the board.

“The ECB, Professional Cricketers’ Association and long-standing sponsors, who have severed their links with Yorkshire over the club’s approach to tackling the problem, are all now on the same page and the committee and the Government are speaking as one.

“Anyone who still fails to acknowledge the deep-seated nature of racism in the sport, while using distraction tactics to frustrate much-needed reforms, is in the minority.

DCMS committee chair Julian Knight says those trying to thwart reform at Yorkshire are
DCMS committee chair Julian Knight says those trying to thwart reform at Yorkshire are “in the minority” (House of Commons/PA)

“Next week, by voting for the reforms put forward by Lord Patel, Yorkshire members can continue the process of the club’s rehabilitation. This should be just the first step in cricket putting its house in order.

“Such a move however will not only secure the long-term future of the club by restoring international matches to Headingley but will act as a signal to the wider cricketing world that, with the right will, strong and determined action can be taken to tackle the scourge of racism that has stained the game.”

Support for reform

Former Yorkshire and ECB chairman Colin Graves told the BBC on Wednesday he would support the proposed reforms, adding: “I really hope that the legal advice taken by the club on these issues is sound and solid.

“The club now needs to move on, and get back to staging international matches and playing cricket at the highest level in England and Wales.”

The committee had recommended that cricket face funding cuts if it failed to demonstrate it is ridding the game of racism, something which the Government has now endorsed.

It also supported the recommendation that the ECB provides quarterly updates on its progress on making the sport more inclusive.

The Government said in its response: “The Government will continue to call in the ECB quarterly and track their progress in tackling racism and increasing diversity, and will hold them to account for delivery against the joint 12-point action plan published in November 2021. This is in line with the ECB’s commitment to provide quarterly public updates against this plan.

“We expect to see evidence of improvements across the sport and delivery on the ECB’s ambition to eradicate racism from cricket. However if these changes are not made and implemented, the Government reserves the right to intervene further. This has been made clear to the ECB and the first-class counties.”