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John Holder accuses ECB of being ‘disingenuous’ over racial discrimination claim




Ismail Dawood equally unimpressed by ECB comments, but governing body rejects allegations of ‘institutional racism’

John Holder has dismissed ECB comments claiming he has withdrawn his claim of racial discrimination against them as “disingenuous” and vowed to never work for the organisation again.
Holder and Ismail Dawood had launched a legal challenge against the ECB suggesting that their careers as umpires had been adversely affected by institutional racism at the ECB.

But with the law stating that any such claim has to be brought within three months of the termination of employment, Holder and Dawood were always unlikely to prevail. Dawood was last on the ECB’s reserve umpire list in 2014; Holder’s last game was in 2009. They reasoned, however, that by bringing the case they could highlight the issues they had faced and hoped they may win an exemption on the basis of public interest.

At a mediation meeting a week ago, offered by the ECB at the umpires’ request, it is understood the ECB offered an acknowledgement that they had fallen short of the standards they set themselves. They stopped short of an apology, however, and no compensation was offered. Both Holder and Dawood rejected the ‘acknowledgement’ and what they described as the “token roles” they were offered and declined to sign any non-disclosure agreement.

Holder and Dawood subsequently withdrew their employment claim as pursuing it further could have exposed them to a claim for costs from the ECB. Their claim to the Equality and Human Rights Commission remains open, however, and ECB comments made to the BBC which they believe misrepresented the situation have left them incensed. Indeed, it is understood Holder emailed Neil Snowball, the managing director of county cricket, and withdrew his offer of working with the ECB.

The comments from the ECB made to the BBC were: “The ECB has been notified that John Holder and Ismail Dawood have withdrawn their employment claims against the ECB without payment of compensation or costs. The ECB is committed to a world-class diverse and inclusive officiating system, with opportunities for all. The ECB appreciates Mr Holder and Mr Dawood’s engagement in addressing these matters, and will now discuss with Mr Holder his interest in contributing to its ongoing review of officiating.”

Holder told ESPNcricinfo: “Our case against the ECB has been beaten on a legal technicality. I haven’t withdrawn any of the claims I made.

“The tone of the ECB’s statement would give the uninvolved reader the impression that we have accepted their version of events and backed down. This is not the case at all. We remain convinced that the ECB is institutionally racist.

“Having read that statement, I knew I couldn’t work with these people any more. There is no trust. They aren’t looking to learn from my experiences; they are looking to silence me and give the impression that things have been resolved. That is misleading and disingenuous.”

Dawood was equally unimpressed. “We were offered token roles to work with Neil Snowball at the ECB which were an insult to us and the many others that have suffered at the hands of the ECB,” he told ESPNcricinfo.

“Tom Harrison talks about a zero tolerance attitude towards racism while he courts the press and yet the ECB have acknowledged they have fallen below their own standards in this regard. Where is the accountability? It’s a non-existent word at the ECB.”

The ECB issued a statement on Friday, which said: “We do not agree with the accusation that the ECB is institutionally racist, but we do recognise that the stories and insight, shared by many within cricket in the last 12 months, reflect that as a sport we need to do more to ensure that everyone feels welcome.

“We are in the process of undertaking an independent review of officiating and are committed to acting on its findings to ensure that the game is open and accessible. We have invited John and Ismail to share their experiences as part of that process.

“The review is one of a number of initiatives including the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket that we have put in place to explore issues that exist around racism and equality and to tackle a number of topics that people have raised in the past 12 months.

“The ECB has now commissioned a review, with Board oversight, to look at how we can reform our approach to managing Match Officials. This will set out actions as to how we can improve our systems and processes to increase the diversity of umpiring, inspire the next generation of umpires and match referees, have a world class umpiring programme and ensure a culture of inclusivity and fairness throughout the umpiring system.”

Former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq also alleged “institutional racism” at the county, who have been carrying out an investigation into the claims. The ECB founded an independent commission for equity in cricket, designed to examine issues relating to race and equity, in November.

The latest comments from Holder and Dawood come just two days after England and New Zealand players stood in a ‘moment of unity’ before the start of play in the first Test at Lord’s with England players wearing training T-shirts which denounced various forms of discrimination.

Later on Wednesday, debutant England seamer Ollie Robinson issued an apology after historic tweets he posted as a teenager in 2012 and 2013 emerged, which he acknowledged were “racist and sexist” in nature. The ECB committed to launching a full investigation while also facing calls to increase efforts to assess players’ social media history.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Islamabad United vs Quetta Gladiators, PSL 2021




Gladiators allrounder stretchered off to an ambulance as second innings got underway

Playing his first match of PSL 2021, Quetta Gladiators’ Andre Russell was struck on the helmet while batting and later replaced by fast bowler Naseem Shah under the concussion-sub rule at the innings break. The decision to replace the allrounder with Naseem did not seem to go down well with Islamabad United; their captain Shadab Khan could be seen talking to umpire Aleem Dar before the second innings began.

During the first over of the second innings, Russell was stretchered out from the dressing room to an ambulance. He had received the blow to the head in the 14th over of Gladiators’ innings. He hit two sixes off Muhammad Musa in that over before he was slow on a pull shot to a bouncer from the pacer. After being struck, Russell was checked by a physio and allowed to continue batting, although he was out next ball, caught at third man.

The rules on concussion substitutes state that any concussed player can be replaced by someone outside the XI, as long as the match referee agrees that the incoming player is a like-for-like replacement. Although Russell is a pace-bowling allrounder and Naseem is a specialist fast bowler, the decision to allow Naseem as a replacement might have been based on Russell’s inability to deliver four overs in Gladiators’ bowling innings.

Naseem opened the bowling for Gladiators but, defending 133, conceded four fours in a 19-run first over. Gladiators went on to lose inside 10 overs, the first time in PSL history a side has won by the halfway mark. This was Gladiators’ first match after PSL 2021’s restart in Abu Dhabi.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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Recent Match Report – England vs New Zealand 2nd Test 2021




All the updates, news and stats from day four of the second Test at Edgbaston

Welcome to day four of our live report of the second Test between England and New Zealand from Edgbaston. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here.

* Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local

12.10am: They know it’s all over

New Zealand 388 (Young 82, Conway 80, Taylor 80, Broad 4-48) and 41 for 2 (Latham 23*) beat England 303 (Lawrence 81*, Burns 81, Boult 4-85) and 122 (Wood 29, Wagner 3-18, Henry 3-36) by eight wickets

The first ball said it all, really. Trent Boult sent it down with scrambled seam, it found the bat and Tom Blundell’s waiting gloves leaving Olly Stone, England’s last man out visibly exhaling in deflated resignation to his side’s fate. And the Edgbaston clock hadn’t even ticked over to 11am yet.

The man at the other end, James Anderson, was into the changing room and straight back out again, producing a maiden first up. He wasn’t going down without a fight.

Nor was his old mate, Stuart Broad, who struck with the last ball of the following over when he removed Devon Conway, the man who had racked up 306 runs at 76.50 this series in the only two Tests of his career. Broad enticed Conway to one that pitched outside off and found an edge which James Bracey took behind the stumps with the visitors only needing 32 more for victory.

Stone came into the attack in the 10th over and struck with his sixth ball. Having had a wider delivery punished to the fence by Will Young two balls prior, Stone had Young out chopping onto his stumps with just five runs needed.

Stand-in captain Tom Latham sealed the result in the next over with a four clubbed through square leg off Mark Wood followed by another two balls later guided through third man. It was New Zealand’s first Test series win in England since 1999 and consigned England to their first home Test series defeat since 2014.

11.45am: Too good

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Recent Match Report – Gladiators vs United 18th Match 2020/21-2021




United bowlers played their part too; Javed and Wasim combined their eight overs for 30 runs while Hasan took two wickets

Islamabad United 137 for no loss (Munro 90*, Khawaja 40*) beat Quetta Gladiators 133 all out (Weatherald 43, Wasim 2-12) by ten wickets

A spellbinding, soul-destroying, record-breaking opening partnership between Usman Khawaja and Colin Munro saw Islamabad United thrash Quetta Gladiators by 10 wickets, polishing off the target of 134 with an eye-watering 10 overs to spare. It included the highest Powerplay total in PSL history as Islamabad ran up 97 in the first six, with Munro bringing up his half-century in 20 balls; He would go on to finish unbeaten on 90 having faced just 36 deliveries.

Indeed, only three times in top-flight franchise T20 cricket has a higher powerplay total been achieved as the Gladiators were left helpless in the face of a genuinely stunning onslaught. It leaves the Gladiators on the brink of crashing out of the tournament.

Aside from the first over of the game, where Hasan Ali sloppily conceded 15, United were on top from start to finish. Akif Javed and Mohammad Wasim kept things tight and made regular inroads, while Mohammad Musa weathered a couple of huge sixes from Andre Russell to come back and dismiss the Gladiators’ star man the same over. More worryingly, though, he struck Russell on the head a couple of balls earlier, leading to a lengthy concussion test. Russell would not return to the field all match, and footage later showed him being stretchered to hospital.
On the field, though, the Gladiators continued to lose regular wickets, never quite threatening to pull away from United’s bowlers. Jake Weatherald provided the most substantial contribution with a steady 43, but when his side needed someone else to kick on, there was no one to be found. Azam Khan struggled for fluency in a stuttering innings, while captain Sarfaraz Ahmed fell early. With the side being bowled out for 133, they needed a big contribution with the ball, but Khawaja and Munro soon put any such notions to beat.

The record-breaking stand

Keen viewers of the PSL may be aware United like to take full advantage of the powerplay with quality overseas batters, but this might be the finest exponent of the art in the history of this league. Munro got things going off Naseem Shah’s first over using a combination of pure timing and artistic placement, fulfilling the role his former Kiwi teammate Luke Ronchi used to execute with such perfection for this side. After Naseem – Russell’s concussion substitute – was plundered for 19 in the first over, the floodgates were opened, and Khawaja got into the act soon enough.

Mystifyingly, the Gladiators continued to go with pace on the ball, and that played right into the hands of a sweet timer like Khawaja. Fellow Australian Jack Wildermuth went for three caressed fours off the inning’s third over, before Mohammad Hasnain was picked up and put away over fine leg, all using the tearaway fast bowler’s own pace. The 50 was up, and the game was quickly over as a contest, with the records beginning to tumble.

No 100-plus partnership in all of PSL history has ever seen a higher run rate than Khawaja and Munro’s 13.70, and it wasn’t even mindless slogging. Repeatedly, the two used field placement, perfect timing, and sharp footwork to remain one step ahead of the hapless Gladiators, and when Munro reverse-swept Mohammad Nawaz for six over third man in the tenth over, putting Sarfaraz’s side out of their misery seemed like an act of mercy.

The perfect replacement

Faheem Ashraf’s absence for three games seemed like a pivotal blow for United, but Javed and Wasim filled those boots masterfully at the top of the innings. After a loose opening over from Hasan threatened to allow the Gladiators to get off to a flyer, Javed consolidated with a tidy six balls from his end. He tagged Wasim in then, who left veteran South African Faf du Plessis at first flustered, and then embarrassed, working him over with a nastily rearing bouncer before cleaning up the middle stump with one that kept low.

It put the Gladiators on the back foot completely, and in the five powerplay overs the pair bowled, the batters managed a mere 21 runs. They weren’t done, though, Akif returning to prise out Weatherald, outthinking the Australian with a leg-stump full toss after all three stumps were exposed for a ramp shot. Wasim, meanwhile, had Nawaz walking back thanks to a near-perfect middle and leg stump yorker that knocked back his stump. Their combined figures of 8-0-30-3 went a long way towards illustrating the story of Islamabad’s dominance in that first innings.

Where they stand

United move into second place with eight points, while the Gladiators are cut further adrift at the bottom, with just one win in six.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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