Azeem Rafiq, the former England U19 and Yorkshire captain revealed the experience of racism while playing in English domestic cricket left him on the brink of suicide.
Azeem Rafiq played in 38 First class, 35 List A and 95 T20 matches representing Yorkshire from 2008-2014 and also in 2016 and 2018 where he picked up 71, 43 and 102 wickets respectively and even scored 1 ton in First Class. He played in Derbyshire on short term loan in 2011.
Azeem Rafiq Was ‘On Brink Of Suicide’ After Racism In Yorkshire
Azeem Rafiq, who was born in Pakistan’s Karachi, claimed that he was always considered an outsider in Yorkshire and he lost faith after the England based club rejected his claims of racist behaviour.
“I know how close I was to committing suicide during my time at Yorkshire,” Azeem Rafiq was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“I was living my family’s dream as a professional cricketer, but inside I was dying. I was dreading going to work. I was in pain every day,” Rafiq added.
“There were times I did things to try and fit in that, as a Muslim, I now look back on and regret. I’m not proud of it at all,”
“But as soon as I stopped trying to fit in, I was an outsider. There were no coaches on the staff from a similar background who understood what it was like,” Rafiq added.
Yorkshire contacted Azeem Rafiq, who walked away from cricket after his allegations and stated that Board member of Equality and Diversity Committee Hanif Malik is in close contact and will report back to the committee.
Azeem Rafiq Says Yorkshire Unwilling To Chane Views On Racism
Azeem Rafiq launched some serious allegations against Yorkshire, saying that he believes that his former club was orthodox towards views upon racism and not prepared to admit the fact or having the willingness to change their views.
“Yorkshire doesn’t want to listen and they don’t want to change. And part of the reason for that is the people who were involved in the incidents I’m talking about are still at the club. They just want to sweep it under the carpet.”
“But not this time. Not again. I know what I’m doing here. I know that by speaking out I’m damaging my chances of working in the game again. But I also know it’s the right thing to do and if I have to stand alone to do it, I will,” Rafiq concluded.
Racism is not new to cricket with even Brian Lara targets of racism. The famous incidents came when Australian Andrew Symmonds accused Harbhajan Singh of racially abusing him, Darren Sammy was insulted in IPL, spectators abusing England’s Jofra Archer, commentator Dean Jones calling South African batsman Hashim Amla terrorist in 2006 are a few to speak of.