Azeem Rafiq fears he may have become “unemployable” within cricket after speaking out about the racism he suffered during his two spells at Yorkshire. Former off-spinner Azeem Rafiq, 31 accused Yorkshire of failing to deal adequately with the abuse he suffered at the northern county, saying he had been driven to thoughts of suicide.
The Pakistan-born off spinner’s revelations eventually led to turmoil at Yorkshire, with sponsors making a mass exodus and the club suspended from hosting lucrative international matches — a right that has only recently been conditionally restored.
Azeem Rafiq Will Continue To Fight For The Truth And Feels He Is Potentially Unemployable
Azeem Rafiq’s allegations, restated in harrowing testimony he gave to a committee of lawmakers last month, also led to a wholesale clear-out of Yorkshire’s senior management and coaching staff. They also prompted England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to announce a new initiative to tackle racism within the game. Azeem Rafiq, however, said Tuesday he was worried his candour had come at a price.
“I feel like people are scared to be connected to me, because I will continue to fight for the truth,” he told the news agency at the Include Summit in Birmingham.
“I sit here as a 31-year-old, potentially unemployable, potentially (without) any hope of being around the game in the future, a game that I’ve loved for the majority of my life. Something that I thought, after letting off the burden that I’ve been carrying for a long time, that I’d be able to love again and start going back towards and follow my passion within it.”
Gary Ballance, Alex Hales, Tim Bresnan, Matthew Hoggard, and David Lloyd were some of the England cricketers Azeem Rafiq used racist terms. 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.
Rafiq added: “My passion away from playing is coaching…So that was one thing that I always wanted to do and the other thing was within a media, broadcasting. I just don’t know how I can come back when the game is still not accepting the reality. Of course I’d love to (come back).”
Azeem Rafiq had earlier launched some serious allegations against Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said that he believes that his former club was orthodox towards views upon racism and not prepared to admit the fact or have the willingness to change their views.
Azeem Rafiq Doesn’t Have Any Faith In ECB’s Scheme To Combat Racism
But Azeem Rafiq, who has said he and his family have received threats to their physical safety, said cricket was still not treating the issue of racism seriously.
“It wants to put this across as Azeem Rafiq’s experience,” he said. “It’s not, it’s the experience of thousands of others.”
Azeem Rafiq was also unconvinced by the ECB’s latest scheme to combat racism.
“The whole action plan is really difficult for me to have any faith in it because we’ve seen it before,” he said.
“From a county point of view, they don’t actually think that there is a problem, which is incredibly worrying.”
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 a short term loan in 2011.
Racism is not new to cricket. The infamous incidents came when Australian Andrew Symonds 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.