Tom Harrison faces the prospect of a county rebellion and possible calls to resign amid mounting anger over the England and Wales Cricket Board’s handling of the Yorkshire racism scandal.
Harrison, the governing body’s executive director, will address a game-wide gathering at the Oval on Friday under significant pressure following his painful stint in front of the select committee on digital, culture, media and sports on Tuesday.
The 49-year-old fought to justify the response to Azeem Rafiq’s accusations of racism in Yorkshire last year. MPs criticized the ECB for its decision to allow the club to conduct its own investigation, only stepping in to suspend Headingley from hosting test matches and to begin its own investigation once it became clear that no action would be taken.
Harrison and the ECB insisted that this was due to the governing body’s role as regulator of sport. But a senior county administrator told The Guardian there is a growing belief in the game that this “train wreck” session in parliament has only served to highlight structural flaws in the governance of the sport and the need of a reform.
Although the fate of executive positions at the ECB is technically decided by its independent board of directors, Friday’s meeting to discuss the current crisis in sport could draw enough of the 41 members of the ECB: the 18 first-class counties, the national counties. and MCC: pushing for change at the top.
This came as Ian Watmore was forced to resign as president of the ECB last month after the controversial decision to suspend the planned tour of Pakistan by men and women of England and their struggle to lead the issue of the structure of the county next year. .
It may be that with Watmore yet to be replaced (Barry O’Brien is interim president, but missed the DCMS selection committee due to health concerns), Harrison survives, even if the £ 2.1 million bonus he and other top executives must share. The coming year, despite the financial losses and layoffs, remains a source of much concern in the game.
As Harrison struggles to stay in place, Rafiq has reiterated his call for Yorkshire to recall Andrew Gale and Martyn Moxon, but show mercy to Gary Ballance if the former England hitter shows remorse.
Speaking the day after his historic testing session, Rafiq shared the belief that “floodgates” could now open to “hundreds or thousands” of similar allegations of racism in county cricket and urged the sport to listen and support those who To present themselves.
Indeed, the Independent Commission for Fairness in Cricket, created by the ECB in March to investigate discrimination from the professional level to the grassroots, has received more than 1,000 responses since it began its call for evidence on November 9.
This will be incorporated into a report to be released next summer, but at Headingley things will have to move faster. Both Gale, the Yorkshire head coach, and Moxon, the cricket director, were implicated in the Rafiq evidence and the former England U19 captain sees no turning back for the pair.
“I don’t think Martyn and Andrew can [continue]”Rafiq said during a round of broadcast interviews. “I don’t think it’s possible for Yorkshire to go ahead with them there, knowing full well what role they played in that institution. Yesterday they had the opportunity to come here under parliamentary privilege to convey their version of events and they did not. “
Gale is suspended by Yorkshire while investigating an anti-Semitic tweet posted 11 years ago, but in a 57-page witness statement posted by DCMS he is accused by Rafiq of using racist language and being “aggressive and rude” to him and Adil Rashid in some way. way “. I was not with white players.”
The 37-year-old, who swapped the captaincy for the head coach job in 2016, has so far declined to comment. But, along with Moxon, who allegedly failed to act on the initial reports of racism and intimidation from Rafiq, it is unlikely that he will survive the long-awaited departure of backroom staff under the club’s new chair, Lord Kamlesh Patel.
However, Rafiq was more optimistic about Ballance. The former club captain is accused of regularly using racist language, including the word “Kevin” to describe people of color, and could still be expelled despite signing a new three-year contract in September.
“I think Gary, if he apologizes properly, has some kind of acceptance, I think he should get some kind of responsibility, whatever it is,” Rafiq said. “I think he should be allowed to play.”
Alex Hales, who Rafiq said named his black dog “Kevin” in reference to Ballance’s use of the word, issued a statement Wednesday denying the rumor and spoke of his respect for the former’s plight.
Meanwhile, Tim Bresnan is the subject of an investigation by his employers, Warwickshire, who apologized to Rafiq for the bullying but also denied the alleged use of racist language in Yorkshire that emerged in Tuesday’s tests.
The 36-year-old former England sailor was hailed as a key locker room influence during this year’s county championship title win, but Warwickshire President Mark McCafferty and CEO Stuart Cain are now eager. for speaking with Rafiq to hear more. details of your time together. According to a club source, Bresnan has pulled out of a teammate’s bachelor party this weekend to “hide.”
Essex is also conducting investigations into two separate allegations of historic racism at the club, while other counties prepare for similar cases in the coming weeks as the sport’s reckoning continues.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism