Yorkshire Country Cricket Club chair can't say it is no longer racist place but 'culture different'

New Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman Lord Patel says things are now better at the club than they were, ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports

Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s new chair said the “culture feels different” when asked if is satisfied the club is no longer a racist place.

Azeem Rafiq, who once captained Yorkshire, revealed in shocking testimony last year that he was driven from the club by racism.

Yorkshire accepted in September last year there was “no question” Rafiq had faced racial harassment and bullying during his time at the club.

Lord Patel, who took over as chair in November, said an “enormous amount of work has been done in the last eight weeks” – but stopped short of saying the club had cleared itself of racism.

“We’ve taken this place, we’ve turned it upside down and given it a real shake and we are now putting the pieces back together again with lots of independent help and scrutiny,” he said.

Azeem Rafiq gave shocking testimony around his experiences of racism at Yorkshire.

But when asked if it is no longer a racist place, he said: “The culture feels different in a matter of weeks, it’s open, it’s transparent.

“We’re learning, we’re engaging, I’ve worked in a lots of other institutions where I’ve not felt that comfortable.”

He described his role as a “once in a lifetime” moment to make changes.

“There’s not many Azeem Rafiqs in the world, there’s not many people who would take that burden – and it is a burden – to actually put themselves out there, take all the criticism and still go on to say ‘I want this to change for my kids’,” he said.

“And the least I can do is to repair that by using this once in a lifetime moment to make changes, this is a watershed moment.”

Out of 29 players in the senior squad at Yorkshire, only one is of south Asian heritage. In the academy, where there are only 12 youngsters, only two are south Asian.

The club announced they had teamed up with the Pakistan Super League franchise on December 21 and one of the chief targets was to reduce barriers to entry to cricket for young people.

Lord Patel believes this could be key in opening the club’s doors to more people.

“I think it’s culture, it’s history, it’s systemic, it’s the way we’ve always done it,” he said on the low number of south Asian players.

“Our scholarship programme is going to do exactly that, were going to go to all the corners of Yorkshire.”