'Failed terribly': Cricket legend's withering spray for England

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Seen here, West Indies great Michael Holding performing commentary duties for Sky Sports.
West Indies great Michael Holding says England's cricket board has 'failed' the sport in relation to the Yorkshire racism scandal. Pic: Getty

West Indies cricket great Michael Holding has taken a savage swipe at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), claiming it "failed terribly" in relation to the Yorkshire racism furore.

The Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) is reeling from a racism scandal that saw chairman Roger Hutton resign last week after sponsors pulled their backing and the ECB stripped the club's Headingley ground of its right to host international matches.

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Former player Azeem Rafiq filed a legal claim against Yorkshire last year, which has now been settled, for failing to deal adequately with racist abuse he suffered while representing the county, saying he had been driven to thoughts of suicide.

Yorkshire apologised to the 30-year-old in September but subsequently said they would take no disciplinary action against any of their staff.

Former England batter Gary Ballance was subsequently suspended indefinitely from national selection after admitting that he used a racial slur towards Rafiq during their time together at Yorkshire.

Yorkshire has also suspended first-team coach Andrew Gale pending a disciplinary hearing into a historic tweet, purportedly of an anti-semitic nature.

Pictured here, Azeem Rafiq says he was subjected to racial abuse while playing for Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
Azeem Rafiq levelled serious allegations against Yorkshire County Cricket club and some of its players. Pic: AAP

While announcing his resignation last week, former chair Hutton fired a parting shot at the ECB for failing to help with the racism probe, leading to a scathing rebuke from Holding - who has worked in England as a commentator for more than two decades.

“The ECB failed Yorkshire and they failed cricket," Holding told SunSport.

“They are supposed to be the organisation that runs cricket in England.

“If you are the supreme court, for instance, and one of the lower courts has a problem and comes to you asking for help and you’ve said that’s not your business, that doesn’t work.

“They failed and failed terribly. I don’t think policies in any organisation will have racism and how to treat people in them.

“It’s the people that need to be looked at, not the policies. Their mindset, their ideology - that is what needs to change.

“It’s either a change of person or find a way to change their mindset. It’s one or the other - it cannot continue as it is.”

Yorkshire promises change at county cricket club

Following Hutton's resignation, Yorkshire appointed Lord Patel as the club's new chairman and he praised Rafiq for his bravery in speaking out about racism.

Rafiq and Yorkshire agreed a settlement and Patel promised urgent change at the crisis-hit club, something Holding welcomed with open arms.

“If you have found that some of his claims are true and he did suffer racist abuse, how can you then say you don’t think you need to take any action? Holding added.

“That is just slapping him further in the face. It’s ridiculous.

“Azeem Rafiq was very brave and he has to be thanked for being so persistent until something came out.

“It’s difficult to say you’re going to do something about what happened to Azeem Rafiq but you can do something about the club and the thinking of people at the club.

“They have to think about the future. Institutions are run by human beings, they don’t run themselves.

“Are the people in these institutions and the people responsible for the running of these institutions, the administrators, are they the right people to take this organisation forward?

“Do they have the right thinking? If not, you have to replace those people. It’s as simple as that.”

with agencies

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