Yorkshire Cricket: Public hearing to begin into Azeem Rafiq's racism claims

Azeem Rafiq.
Azeem Rafiq made accusations of racial harassment and bullying against Yorkshire County Cricket Club more than two-years-ago. Credit: PA

A public hearing which will examine allegations of racism and discriminatory behaviour, connected to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, is set to begin at the Cricket Discipline Commission on Wednesday, nearly three years after claims were first made by former player Azeem Rafiq. Sports Editor Steve Scott breaks down what we can expect to unfold.

At the very best the game of cricket is set for a very uncomfortable few weeks.

More than two years after Yorkshire County Cricket Club's ugly racism scandal first exploded it is going to be poured over again, in detail and in public.

There may even be new revelations about what happened at Headingley which led their former player, Azeem Rafiq, to speak out in the first place.

His allegations of systemic racism sparked a chain of events which saw a chairman quit, a change of leadership, staff fired, the club lose lucrative sponsors and matches and, most recently, led Rafiq to move himself and his family to Pakistan to escape the abuse and threats they were suffering at home in Yorkshire. He could not guarantee his or their safety.

The coming week may well end up being a showdown between Rafiq and England's Ashes winning captain, Michael Vaughan.

Of the seven players charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), he is the only one likely to appear as a witness.

One has accepted the charges against him and apologised; the others have withdrawn from the process because they don't believe they'll get a fair hearing.

They include former England test match stars, Tim Bresnan and Matthew Hoggard, whose cases like the others will still be heard in their absence.

Michael Vaughan is expected to appear as a witness in the hearing. Credit: PA

But Vaughan is expected to front up to repeat his denial of the central allegation facing him, that he said to a group of Asian teammates, including Rafiq and England spinner Adil Rashid, there are "too many of you lot".

Rafiq is the ECB's chief witness.

Ahead of the hearing starting on Wednesday, Yorkshire CCC has admitted liability to four charges. Essentially, they cover the club's failure to tackle systemic use of racist language and a failure to act over that behaviour.

Sanctions open to the panel are widespread, but are likely to be limited to points deductions for the club in various competitions and a fine.

The fall-out from what else is coming in the days ahead, is far more difficult to predict.

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