Remarkable but no surprise as stubborn Yorkshire executives refuse to quit over Azeem Rafiq report

The clouds are gathering about Headingley. Credit: PA

At best Roger Hutton’s explosive parting shot exposes the mind-boggling misjudgement at the top of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and, at worst, it reveals something far, far more troubling.

As the club continues to implode because of how it has handled racism allegations made by its former player Azeem Rafiq, Hutton said in his resignation statement: “I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition.”

He added: “There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologise and to accept [there was] racism and to look forward.”

Azeem Rafiq said he was driven to tears from racial abuse he suffered while playing at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Credit: PA Images

An investigation into Rafiq’s claims concluded he was the victim of “racial harassment and bullying” but that report has not been published in full and no one at the club has been disciplined as a result.

The crisis escalates on a daily basis, the former England captain Michael Vaughan admitted he was named in the investigation but strenuously denies saying to Rafiq and other Asian players: “There are too many of you lot, we need to do something about that.”

However, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Yorkshire’s overseas signing at the time has told ESPN Cricinfo he heard Vaughan’s comment.

Vaughan, I understand, is just one of a dozen or so current or former players named in the report.

Yorkshire CCC’s major sponsors are now bolting out of the door at regular intervals and the ECB who run cricket have suspended the club from hosting any internationals or other major matches for the time being. 

The governing body, who were criticised for their initial inaction by Hutton, recognises only too well the Yorkshire debacle is damaging for the wider game. At a time when a diverse England team is blazing a trail at the T20 World Cup, the spotlight is elsewhere.

Senior ECB officials have admitted to difficult conversations with their own commercial partners, but the chief executive, Tom Harrison, has said the implications were far more serious than financial.

It is remarkable given what has happened over the past 48 hours that any Yorkshire executives are stubborn enough to stay put, but then these are the same men who were comfortable with the conclusion that someone persistently calling one of their employees “P***” could be brushed off as "banter."