Test matches to return as Yorkshire Cricket Club votes in reform in wake of Azeem Rafiq racism row

Lord Kamlesh Patel has formally been confirmed as the new chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Credit: PA

Lord Kamlesh Patel has formally been confirmed as the new chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club in one of the most important changes in the club's 159-year history.

Members were asked to approve key changes at the club in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal, including ratifying Lord Patel as the new Chair.

The structural reforms mean the club can now stage England matches at Headingley this summer after losing the right to host matches.

Lord Patel was hired as chair in November after former Yorkshire County Cricket Club player, Rafiq, prompted a major inquiry into abuse and discrimination in the game after making claims of institutional racism at the club.

An investigation found he had been subjected to racial harassment and bullying while at the club, and in November, he gave evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Former Yorkshire County Cricket Club player, Azeem Rafiq, prompted a major inquiry into discrimination in the game.

Amid a raft of sackings and resignations, Yorkshire lost its right to host lucrative international matches in the wake of its handling of Rafiq's racism allegations.

Two previous efforts to hold an EGM were cancelled after former chairman and current vice-president Robin Smith declared the new chairmanship of Lord Patel invalid. However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) gave Lord Patel its backing ahead of the extraordinary general meeting.

Lord Kamlesh Patel has been tasked with leading the club out of the crisis. Credit: Yorkshire Cricket Club

The club was told that the stadium won't regain the right to host England's Test Match against New Zealand in June or any other international matches unless changes were voted through.

These included "resolving the issues relating to rule changes and decisions at the club" and "including the removal of Graves Trust powers".

Over 1100 Members registered votes either in person, electronically or via proxy. Some told ITV Calendar that they were pleased with the outcome.

Reacting to the agreed resolutions, Lord Kamlesh Patel, said it was an "overwhelming vote for positive change." 

He added: “We welcome the outcome of this EGM and thank the Members for their full and proper consideration, an open exchange of views, and their votes."

“This support will help Yorkshire County Cricket Club to be an inclusive and welcoming place and gives us the clarity and certainty we need to keep building this great club."

Rafiq welcomed the news on Twitter and stated he was “excited for the future of our club”.

An ECB spokesperson added: "We welcome the progress made by Lord Patel so far, as well as his commitment to making the club one which everyone, from all backgrounds, can be proud of."

"However, there is much work still to be done at Yorkshire and it is important that the plans set out so far are now delivered - we will continue to monitor progress closely."

The board said the investigation brought by Azeem Rafiq is still ongoing.