Cricketer Jahid Ahmed speaks out about racist abuse he suffered at Essex

  • Jahid Ahmed has spoken at length about the abuse he endured as an Essex player, in interview with ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura

A former professional cricketer has opened up about the alleged racist abuse he faced during his time playing the sport, saying he still has "nightmares" of the things he went through.

Jahid Ahmed, who is British Bangladeshi, said he endured taunts about his ethnicity and religion, was called a "curry-muncher", mocked for his accent and compared to a terrorist during his time at Essex County Cricket Club.

He is the third player to make allegations against the club, following similar claims by Zoheb Sharif and Maurice Chambers.

The club has launched an investigation into the allegations and said it was determined to make sure the abuse could "never happen again".

Jahid, 36, from Burnham-on-Crouch, joined Essex's under-17 team in 2003, and by 2005 had been given a professional contract.

Jahid Ahmed is the third player to make allegations of racism against Essex Cricket Club. Credit: ITV Anglia

Speaking to ITV News Anglia, Mr Ahmed said: "I remember one of the senior players making a comment like 'curry muncher'.

"I didn't take much notice. But I did confront him one day. I said 'Why did you call us curry muncher? What does that mean? What does that actually mean?'  

"He said 'Because you guys stink of curry, that's why'.

"That's the first time I faced that racism."

Mr Ahmed said his accent was mocked by some players, who also made jokes about terrorism, and that felt pressured to attend a team meeting in a pub while he was fasting during Ramadan.

"The next day after the 7/7 bombings, one of the players stood up and said to me 'So J, are you going to bomb us?' Labelling me as a terrorist, it did really get to me. 

"It got to a stage where I used to try and avoid those people who used to make a mockery out of me. I used to try and go around them, rather than in front of them because every time I used to go in front of them, a comment always used to be made. 

"It was like school bullying."

Mr Ahmed said he was "scared to speak out" fearing he would lose his contract with the club if he did.

Jahid Ahmed speaking to ITV News' Raveena Ghattaura. Credit: ITV Anglia

Essex County Cricket Club launched an independent investigation overseen by Katharine Newton QC with the findings due to be published in September.

John Stephenson, who joined the club as chief executive in July 2021, said he was "extremely depressed and shocked" to hear about Mr Ahmed's allegations. 

"We are determined to find out what happened and take the necessary actions to make sure they never happen again," he said. "We want to make sure everybody feels safe in this environment.

"I am truly sorry for the impact it has had on Jahid's life. We are not trying to sugarcoat or deny anything, we are trying to be open and transparent and learn from the process. 

"It is really really painful because I know Essex in 2022 is not that club. It is not a racist club and I am determined to make sure that continues under my watch."

  • Club chief executive John Stephenson said he was "truly sorry" for the impact on Mr Ahmed

The scandal exposed at Yorkshire blew the covers off an ugly side of the sport, beginning with revelations from Azeem Rafiq in 2020.

Protected by parliamentary privilege, Rafiq's damning revelations last year led to a flurry of professional players speaking out about their alleged experiences. 

Mr Ahmed said he wanted the same, so he too can highlight the abuse he says he faced, without fear of legal reprisal.

After he was released from Essex, he turned to coaching children in London with the charity Platform Cricket.

He hopes to make the sport more inclusive for those from all backgrounds and said the only way to make a difference is to help others. 

"Because of the experience I faced, I said to myself, I'm going to do everything and anything to make sure not another child goes through what I've been through", he said.

"I'm going to help that person regardless of what background they're from. It is the best decision I ever made in my life."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know