Yorkshire ‘can never forget’ racism scandal but must look forward – Lord Patel

Yorkshire chair Lord Patel is keen to look to the future but insisted the turmoil the club has been through will never be forgotten.

Patel has overseen major reforms after being parachuted into his role following Azeem Rafiq’s shocking claims of racial harassment and bullying in his time at the county.

Last month Yorkshire announced a partnership with India-based global streaming platform Clean Slate Studioz, and on Sunday the company’s branding was unveiled on the East Stand and Pavilion by West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin.

The Clean Slate deal also includes a commitment to women and girls’ cricket in the area, with the company sponsoring the Northern Diamonds and supplying 50 free kit bags to help underprivileged girls play the sport.

Patel told the PA news agency: “It’s far more than just a sponsorship deal, it’s the beginning of a long journey, a partnership with an organisation that believes in the journey we’re going on.

“We want to tackle discrimination and inequality when it happens, and remember that 51 per cent of the population are women and girls, and actually put that at the centre of everything we’re doing.

“We’re absolutely gobsmacked at what they’ve done and want to do with us and how they want to develop it across the world.

“From day one, even when I was at the ECB, growing the women and girls’ game was really important to me. Obviously I’ve had a few other things to sort out.”

Several sponsors cut ties with Yorkshire following the initial handling of Rafiq’s allegations and they were temporarily stripped of staging England games at Headingley, although that has since been restored.

Patel is encouraged by the progress that has been made, saying: “It’s a massive journey to go on. But by the end of the month we’ll be announcing six phenomenal new executive directors.

“We’ve got a fantastic multi-ethnic coaching team. It wasn’t picked, it was done on merit. We’ve had a very successful start to the season.

The Northern Diamonds' shirts will be sponsored by Clean Slate
The Northern Diamonds’ shirts will be sponsored by Clean Slate (handout)

“We’ve taken people on a journey, it’s been a rocky journey but I’m so pleased to be here. We’re getting there but we know there is a long, long way to go.

“A lot of my professional career has been about inequality and tackling social injustice. A lot of my career has been about regulation and good governance, and one thing I do is I do look back, but I look back for lessons and mistakes I’ve made to inform the future.

“It is time to move forward and positively go forward but you can never forget what’s happened because if you forget, you make mistakes again.”

Plans are also afoot for a partnership between the Clean Slate Foundation and the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, with the aim of building a community enterprise called Clean House to invest in the community through film, arts, sports and education.

Lord Patel has overseen major changes at Yorkshire
Lord Patel has overseen major changes at Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA)

Clean Slate founder Karnesh Ssharma feels the values of the two organisations are aligned despite Yorkshire’s recent past, saying: “I think for us it was not important what had happened. What was important was the leadership of Lord Patel and what Yorkshire Cricket Club was trying to do.

“They accepted there has been a problem, they put reforms out there and they are going all out to make sure the future’s bright. We as a company believe in it. We are Clean Slate, every time we start fresh.

“We stand for equality, we stand for equal participation of everyone irrespective of gender, so I think these are the values which we associated with Yorkshire Cricket Club and Lord Patel’s leadership.”