Middlesex chair's lack of diversity comments part of 'endemic problem': Rafiq

Speaking before the DCMS committee, O'Farrell suggested that a lack of diversity in English cricket could be attributed to minority communities focusing on other interests.

FILE PHOTO: Several player, including Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq, have alleged they were victims of institutional racism at their clubs.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq criticised Middlesex County Cricket Club chief Mike O'Farrell's comments attempting to explain English cricket's lack of diversity, saying it was indicative of an "endemic problem" in the sport.

The county cricket chairs of Middlesex, Yorkshire, Hampshire and Glamorgan appeared before a Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) select committee on Tuesday as part of an ongoing investigation into cricketing governance.

The committee was formed after a number of players, including Rafiq, alleged they were victims of institutional racism at their clubs.

Speaking before the DCMS committee, O'Farrell suggested that a lack of diversity in English cricket could be attributed to minority communities focusing on other interests.

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"The football and rugby world becomes much more attractive to the Afro-Caribbean community," O'Farrell said.

"In terms of the South Asian community, we're finding that they do not want necessarily to commit the same time that is necessary to go the next step. They sometimes prefer to go into other educational fields and then cricket becomes secondary, and part of that is because it's a more time-consuming sport than some others."

Rafiq responded to O'Farrell's comments on Twitter, saying it was a "painful listen".

 

"Shows how far removed from reality these people are," Rafiq said. "This has just confirmed what an endemic problem the game has. I actually can't believe what I am listening to."

Glamorgan chairman Gareth Williams told the committee that the Welsh club's historic lack of diversity was not representative of Cardiff's demographics, saying that racism had prevented players of minority ethnic communities from turning professional in the past.

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"I have absolutely no doubt that historically there have been issues of racism in this sport generally, and no doubt in Glamorgan in particular," Williams said.

"That must be the case because the figures simply demonstrate that to be the case."

Williams added that the club was working towards addressing these issues, highlighting the presence of South Asians on the board of directors and in the squad.

"I'm satisfied it's not the position now," Williams said. "As far as our board is concerned there are 11 directors, six of whom are independent directors, three of them are female.

"Two of the directors are from the British Asian community, they're terrific directors that make a huge contribution.

"We have two of our squad of 22, excluding international players. One is Kiran Carlson, who is the vice-captain of the entire team. We have Prem Sisodiya who's another, I think, Cardiff man."

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