Racism scandal: What's next for Yorkshire County Cricket Club?

For nearly 160 years Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has been a bastion of pride and success.

From Len Hutton to Geoff Boycott, Yorkshire has provided the country with some of its greatest ever players. Headingley has been host to some of its greatest ever games.

Yet over the last 14 days the White Rose has wilted.

Taj Butt and James Buttler are both former employees of the club.

Both have followed the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal with great interest and see this as an opportunity to reset and bring in a new era for Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Mr Buttler said he has spoken to Azeem over the last 15 months and at times he has been 'really down' but that he has show 'incredible strength to continue battling.'

Azeem Rafiq

At a press conference last week new chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel promised change.

"We're ready to listen, we're ready to believe and we're ready to change," he said.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club new chair Lord Patel

But according to experts its reform not rhetoric that he will be judged on.

 Amanda Coleman, a crisis communication consultant said:"It's a long road ahead and I think the key bit is really to get everything out there, really open themselves up, let people see that they are going to significantly change and it's not just just a rebrand but a fundamental institutional change right the way through."

Yorkshire is a club steeped in history and tradition. A club built on glories of the past.

But it is only through learning lessons from the present that in the future the White Rose can bloom once again.

Following the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing today, the Club made the following statement:

Professor The Lord Patel of Bradford OBE said: "This is an incredibly difficult day for all associated with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

“The emotion of Azeem Rafiq’s compelling testimony at the Select Committee today was plain to see, and his experiences are harrowing and upsetting.

“Azeem’s courage in speaking up should be praised, and nobody should underestimate how difficult it would have been to relive all of this in public. His wish to bring a ‘voice to the voiceless’ should be an inspiration to provoke real change in the sport.

“I repeat our apology to Azeem for what he has gone through, it should never have happened and that is something that the Club has to recognise.

“It is becoming ever clearer since I joined this Club that what happened with the investigation into Azeem’s allegations was fundamentally flawed and unacceptable. The processes and subsequent actions taken by the Club have rightly been criticised.

“There is no quick fix to the clear problems which have been identified, and the issues are complex, not least the charge of institutional racism which must be addressed head on. Azeem noted that this is not about individuals, but rather the structure and processes of the Club, and we need to tackle this. It is clear that we have good people at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and that gives me hope that we can. I am struck by the concept of ‘White Rose’ values and what that means: I want to say firmly that our values at this Club cannot be in any way rooted in racism, discrimination or abuse of any kind.

“I agree with Azeem that we are only at the start of a journey, which will take time. At the heart of this is listening, and going through our past – including the Fletcher Report – as well as examining our culture and taking positive steps to build to a better future, such as the progression from grass roots to the professional game. We need to own the issues collectively as a Club, and cannot hide from what has been spotlighted.

“As well as the set-up of the independent whistleblowing hotline, we are committed to taking further action in response, and will communicate these steps transparently."