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ECB promises ‘fair and thorough’ investigation as Yorkshire take no action over Azeem Rafiq allegations

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Rafiq describes club’s latest steps in racism investigation as ’embarrassing’

The ECB has pledged to conduct a “thorough and fair” investigation into Azeem Rafiq‘s allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, after the club itself insisted that no disciplinary action against its employees, players or executives was warranted.

In a statement, Yorkshire insisted that, for legal reasons, they remain unable to publish the full findings of the report commissioned by an independent panel last year, but the ECB subsequently confirmed receipt of a copy, pending an employment tribunal which will now serve to address the issues that Rafiq raised in a series of interviews, including with ESPNcricinfo, in 2020.

“The ECB has this afternoon received a copy of the report carried out on behalf of Yorkshire CCC into the allegations made by Azeem Rafiq, together with assurances from the club to cooperate fully with the ongoing regulatory process,” read a statement from the board.

“This is a matter with many serious allegations at its heart and the ECB’s regulatory team will now consider the Report as part of its investigation.

“We anticipate that it will take time for the regulatory process to reach its conclusion, but it is imperative that this is completed thoroughly and with fairness to all involved.”

Yorkshire issued an apology to Rafiq in August, acknowledging that he had been the “the victim of inappropriate behaviour” during his two stints at the club, and subsequently distributed a summary of the report and its recommendations, which detailed seven instances of racial harassment and bullying that were upheld by the investigation.

That panel has now been disbanded, with the club placing on record its thanks to Dr Samir Pathak, Stephen Willis, Rehana Azib, Mesba Ahmed and Helen Hyde for their “work and insight” in the case.

“Ultimately the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq are going to be considered not only by the panel but also the employment tribunal and the ECB,” the club statement continued.

“The club has also carried out their own internal investigation following the findings in the report, after which they are able to report that they have come to the conclusion that there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action.

“None of this diminishes the importance of the findings or that fact that there is much the club can learn from the report,” the statement continued. “It was important for Azeem to raise the issues and without him doing so we would not have the panel’s recommendations which are an important part of the club’s continuing journey.”

Responding on Twitter, Rafiq took a dim view of the club’s latest steps to bring the issue to a close, accusing the panellists of seeking to protect Yorkshire’s reputation rather than get to the root of his grievances, while a spokesman for the player subsequent called on the club board to resign.

“Wow, just when you think this club couldn’t get more embarrassing, you find a way,” Rafiq wrote. “Still awaiting the FULL report. Thanks for mentioning the people that have provided your PROTECTION & give green light to RACISM. Interesting timing again.”

“We note the statement released by Yorkshire County Cricket Club today. As ever, we will take time to fully respond,” added Rafiq’s spokesman.

“However, we do also note that the club has come to the conclusion that no employees, players or executives will face disciplinary action. This is despite Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s admission that Azeem was the victim of racial harassment and bullying. This is despite Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s admission that it failed to follow its own policy and investigate allegations of racism as recently as 2018.

“It is inconceivable that there are no current employees who should not have been disciplined for their conduct. Yorkshire’s failures continue to mount up and it is time that board members – for once – do the decent thing and resign.”

Yorkshire’s statement concluded: “Club chair Roger Hutton believes the club and everyone connected to it should be proud of the work that the club has done to improve diversity and inclusion prior to his involvement, but equally acknowledges there remains much to be done going forward.

“The club is fully supportive of what is a strong and talented team which is working hard on the recommendations on the way forward for Yorkshire County Cricket Club and looks forward being able to report on further developments over the coming months.”



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Recent Match Report – Barishal vs Dhaka 5th Match 2021/22

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Shakib Al Hasan becomes the fifth bowler to take 400 wickets in T20 cricket

Minister Group Dhaka 130 for 6 (Mahmudullah 47, Russell 31*, Shafiul 2-20) beat Fortune Barishal 129 for 8 (Gayle 36, Russell 2-27, Udana 2-29) by four wickets

How the match played out
Andre Russell was in his element, following up figures of 2 for 27 with an unbeaten 31 off 15 balls, as Minister Group Dhaka beat Fortune Barishal by four wickets in Mirpur. This was Dhaka’s first win in three matches in BPL 2022 and Russell’s first major contribution this season.
Chasing 130, Dhaka were in early trouble at 10 for 4 in the third over. Left-arm quick Shafiqul Islam bowled Tamim Iqbal in the first over of their chase before Alzarri Joseph dismissed both Mohammad Naim and Jahurul Islam in the second over. When Shafiqul bowled Mohammad Shahzad in the next over, Dhaka were tottering.
Mahmudullah and Shuvagata Hom then steadied things with a 69-run fifth-wicket stand before Russell did what he does best: close out games with his big hits. Shakib Al Hasan, however, gave Barishal a reason to celebrate: he became only the fifth bowler to take 400 T20 wickets.

Earlier, Barishal had slipped to 23 for 3 in the powerplay, when they lost Najmul Hossain Shanto, Shykat Ali and Towhid Hridoy. The experienced pair of Shakib (23) and Chris Gayle (36) then added a semblance of respectability to their innings. But neither could convert it into a bigger knock, which left Barishal at 94 for 6 in the 16th over. Dwayne Bravo’s unbeaten 26-ball 33 then dragged the side to 129 for 8.

All six of Dhaka’s bowlers were among the wickets, with Isuru Udana and Russell taking two each. Meanwhile, Rubel Hossain, Hom and Hasan Murad all bowled economical spells.

Big hit
Russell’s big blows – a four and a six clobbered through square-leg off Joseph – gave Dhaka a huge sigh of relief. It ensured Dhaka were in touch with the asking rate before Russell rushed them to victory with a six and a brace of fours off Taijul Islam in the 17th over.

Dhaka captain Mahmudullah provided Russell great support at the other end, scoring a run-a-ball 47. He struck three fours and a six before he became Shakib’s 400th victim in T20 cricket.

Barishal made a decent fist of their defence, thanks to Shafiqul who bowled with good pace and a bit of movement with the new ball. He was well-supported by Joseph before Russell lined up his West Indies team-mate.

Big miss
Tamim missed out for the first time in three matches, getting out for a second-ball duck in this game. Dhaka’s top four managed only single-digit scores of 0,5,4,0. It could be an alarming sign for Naim and Jahurul who are yet to make a sizeable contribution this season.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Zimbabwe cricket – Brendan Taylor says he faces ICC ban for delay in reporting approach

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Former Zimbabwe captain says cocaine involved in trap laid by alleged corruptors

Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor has revealed that the ICC is about to “impose a multi-year ban” on his international career after he allegedly delayed reporting a corrupt approach “by an Indian businessman”. Taylor had met with the businessman in October 2019 after being asked “to discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe”.
Taylor delayed reporting that meeting in India because, he said, he wanted to protect his family. He describes substance abuse having taken place during that meeting in a statement on Twitter, which he says led to him being allegedly blackmailed. The men he had met, Taylor said, stormed into his hotel room the next day, and threatened to release video of the substance abuse unless he carried out spot-fixing for them. He was given USD 15,000 – which he said he took to flee India – and told it was a deposit for a future payment once the fix was carried out.

“It took me 4 months to report this offence and interaction to the ICC,” Taylor said. “I acknowledge this was too long of a time but I thought I could protect everyone and in particular, my family. I approached the ICC on my own terms and I hoped that if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and wellbeing, that they would understand the delay.

“Unfortunately, they did not, but I cannot feign ignorance in this regard. I have attended many anti-corruption seminars over the years and we know that time is of the essence when making reports.”

Taylor also said he had “never been involved in any form of match-fixing. I may be many things but I am not a cheat. My love for the beautiful game of cricket far outweighs and surpasses any threats which could be thrown my way.”

The ICC has yet to comment on Taylor’s statement, and if he does – as he said – face a ban on his international cricket career, it’s worth noting he does not have much of one at the moment: in September last year he retired from international cricket, after a 17-year career.

Taylor’s statement does reveal, however, some of the difficulties in playing for Zimbabwe, which led to him eventually being prescribed a strong anti-psychotic medication. He said that at the time of the incident he hadn’t been paid by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) for six months “and it was questionable whether Zimbabwe would be able to continue playing in the international arena”.

Another former Zimbabwe captain, Heath Streak, was banned by the ICC for breaches of the anti-corruption code in April 2021. Streak was coach of the side during the World Cup qualifiers in Harare in 2018 and revealed in a recent interview with The Cricket Monthly that the coaching team had agreed to forfeit pay during that period, hoping that if Zimbabwe qualified, the ICC prize money for doing so would enable payments to be made eventually. Zimbabwe did not qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

“I would also like to let you know that on Tuesday the 25th of January I am checking into a rehabilitation centre to get clean and to get my life back on track. I have to tell my story now because I know people will want to hear from me. To try and understand what led to this point.”

Brendan Taylor

Taylor revealed that he will be “checking into a rehabilitation centre” from January 25th in order to deal with the substance abuse.

“I will admit that the past two years have been incredibly challenging, both personally and professionally and it is from absolute rock bottom that I am trying to climb out of this mess I made. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of me and it is clear to me now that I have a much bigger problem which for some time has needed addressing.

“And so, I would also like to let you know that on Tuesday the 25th of January I am checking into a rehabilitation centre to get clean and to get my life back on track. I have to tell my story now because I know people will want to hear from me. To try and understand what led to this point. But for many weeks I will be away and trying to get better.

“l owe it to myself and to my family to get clean and to put them first. I have let a substance take control of me and impair my vision, my morals and my values and it is time that I prioritise what really matters.”

Taylor captained Zimbabwe in 71 games between 2011 and 2021 across the three formats. He was full-time captain between mid-2011 and mid 2014, before Zimbabwe went the split captaincy route and Taylor remained in charge only in Test cricket. Then, at the end of the 2015 World Cup, he retired from internationals and went to the UK on a Kolpak deal aged 29. In late 2017, he ended his Kolpak deal and returned to Zimbabwean cricket.



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ICC awards – Babar Azam and Joe Root take ICC men’s honours for 2021

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Babar was named the ODI cricketer of the year, while Root bagged the Test award after making six centuries from 15 matches

Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, has been named the ICC men’s ODI cricketer of the year for 2021, while England Test captain Joe Root bagged the award for men’s Test cricketer of the year.
Babar’s 158 in the third ODI against England at Edgbaston during the summer was instrumental in him winning the award.

With the series already lost, Pakistan were left to fight for World Cup Super League points, and Babar built on a solid foundation to bring up his career-best score. The knock, however, ended up in a losing cause due to a century stand between James Vince and Lewis Gregory.

Overall, Babar featured in just six ODIs in 2021, finishing with 405 runs at an average of 67.50.

“The best innings of the year if you ask me of the year, it’s this one. It’s the best innings of my career,” Babar said of his knock. “I was struggling a bit, I needed a knock like that and it gave me a lot of confidence.”

Meanwhile, Root’s splendid batting year that fetched him 1708 runs in 15 Tests with six centuries, played a key role in him bagging the Test honours.

Root’s purple patch started right at the start in Sri Lanka, where made a stunning double-century on a Galle turner, and followed that with prolific returns against India, both home and away. With the ball too, Root chipped in with 14 wickets including a maiden Test five-for against India in Ahmedabad.

Root’s numbers stood out amid a poor run from England, as they lost to India both home and away, and finished the year with two losses in Australia. England eventually lost the Ashes 4-0.

The knock that stood out was his 128 that helped England begin their India tour with a win in Chennai in February. He batted for 377 deliveries to craft 218 as England’s imposing first-innings total helped set the tone for a 227-run win.

“The Chennai hundred sticks out, to get it in my hundredth game will live long in may memory,” Root said. “Incredibly proud to have received this award. Humbled to be in the same breath as a number of players around the world. It means a huge amount to get this award.”



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