The former England batsman Mark Ramprakash has called for Yorkshire County Cricket Club to be “dragged into 2021” after what he said was their “disappointing” reaction to accusations of racism in the club.
The scandal that has engulfed the club sparked recriminations and resignations on Friday as the chairman resigned and accused the English game’s governing body of failing to act.
Roger Hutton, the chairman of Yorkshire, stepped down along with two other board members in the wake of the row over Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire cricketer who in 2020 went public with allegations of racial harassment and prompted a 12-month investigation that did not result in any of the club’s current employees facing action.
Ramprakash told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “These issues have come to the fore in recent years because of George Floyd, people no longer willing to accept racism, and things have moved quickly. But Yorkshire has not moved quickly. The attitudes of the board show, as Roger Hutton said, a lack of contrition and a lack of understanding of the gravity of what happened.
“That is what is so disappointing. There need to be more elements coming together to drag Yorkshire into 2021 – and show that they can lead as a county club and that they want diversity.”
Chris Willetts, who runs Platform Cricket, an initiative that aims to increase the participation of children from disadvantaged and black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, told the Guardian that far more needs to be done to keep them in the cricket system.
“The traditional cricket clubs may not have the capacity to increase diversity; they just take children who come through the door,” he said.
“Actually, cricket is a hugely popular sport among the south Asian communities. Around 30% of cricketers are from a south Asian background. But that drops down to 4% at elite level and that is where it is going wrong. I don’t think anybody has been serious about tackling it; we just get token box-ticking.
“This issue sits within a broader issue of inequalities, which you can see from privately educated adults dominating cricket. Even staying in further education is a block to access as cricketers are likely to hit their prime later than footballers. With lots of south Asian children, they may take on work at weekends in their late teens and then lose access to the game.”
Cricketers who work with children at grassroots level to increase diversity warned on Saturday that far more work needs to be done to embed diversity and equality of access in the sport.
Speaking to the Times, Ebony Rainford-Brent, the first black member of the England women’s cricket team said she felt “different” when she entered the world of cricket as a child.
Rainford-Brent, who is also director of women’s cricket at Surrey County Cricket Club and a commentator, said that initially she did not take up the sport because of a lack of diversity.
“I’m on the board at Surrey, which is a great club that’s been going for 175 years. We’re in the heart of quite a strong black community, but there’s none coming through our system,” she said. She added that being on the board of the club has given her the platform to raise the issue of a lack of diversity and to work to change that. She runs a charity called ACE, which seeks to engage young people of African and Caribbean heritage in the sport.