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Yorkshire bring in Lord Patel of Bradford as chair after emergency board meeting

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Two non-executive directors step down in wake of Roger Hutton’s resignation

Yorkshire have appointed Lord Patel of Bradford as the club’s chair after a board meeting in the wake of Roger Hutton’s resignation on Friday, with two more non-executive directors also stepping down as part of the fallout around the handling of the report into allegations of racism by Azeem Rafiq.
Yorkshire’s new chair knows more than most about the evils of racism. Growing up, Kamlesh Patel had to deal with the issue on a daily basis. Now he hopes that experience will serve him well in helping Yorkshire rebuild from perhaps the most serious crisis in its history – which included revelations that the panel cleared a player of wrongdoing over use of the word “P**i” on the grounds that it was banter between friends.

“When I was a boy I developed into a very fast runner,” Patel told ESPNcricinfo. “Do you know why? Because gangs of skinheads used to delight in what they called P**i-bashing and you either learned to run or you took a beating.

“So that word – the P**i word – has real meaning for me. I don’t need to be told it’s not banter.”

Patel looks an astute choice. Born in Kenya, but brought up in Bradford when his parents moved to the UK about a year later, he knows the area, loves cricket and has copious experience. Having trained as a social worker, he was subsequently appointed as Chair of Social Work England and, before that, chair of the Mental Heath Act Commission. He has previously served on the board of the ECB as a senior independent director and had been invited to join the Yorkshire board in recent weeks anyway.

His Asian heritage is, of course, also relevant. The club needs to prove to potential supporters, sponsors and players that it is committed to providing a more inclusive environment. Patel provides tangible evidence that times have changed.

He experienced, he says, “loads” of racism while playing league cricket in the region as he was growing up. And while he believes the situation has improved somewhat, he is under no illusions.

“I grew up at a time when you used to see those ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs’ signs,” he says. “I experienced loads of racism playing cricket.

“I think things have improved. But sometimes it just feels more subtle now. Sometimes I still wonder why, if they’re telling me I’m a rubbish bowler, they have to make mention of the colour of my skin at the same time.”

He has a tough job, though. While non-executive directors Hanif Malik and Stephen Willis – the latter of whom was on the panel that helped produce the report into Rafiq’s allegations of racism – have stood down, the executive directors, notably Mark Arthur, the chief executive, and Martyn Moxon, the director of cricket, remain. While they do so, it is hard to see the club managing to improve its reputation.

Crucially, Patel remains close to Colin Graves, too. Representatives of The Graves Family Trusts, which are owed around £18m by the club, have a veto on anyone joining the Yorkshire board. So while Graves, who is understood to remain loyal to Moxon and Arthur, may have been disappointed not to reclaim the chairmanship of the club, he has accepted the appointment of Patel.

“The club needs to learn from its past errors, regain trust and rebuild relationships with our communities,” Patel said. “There is much work to do, including reading the panel’s report, so we can begin the process of learning from our past mistakes.

“Yorkshire is lucky to have a vast talent pool of cricketers, and passionate supporters, from all of our communities and we must re-engage with everyone to make a better Yorkshire County Cricket Club for everyone.”

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo



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Travis Head wins the race to be Australia's No. 5 in the Ashes

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Mitchell Starc will complete the fast-bowling trio alongside Josh Hazlewood and captain Pat Cummins



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Mithali Raj – We have had ‘good preparation’ for 2022 World Cup by playing SA, England, Australia this year

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“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good,” she says

India Women are scheduled to play only one ODI series – against New Zealand – before the World Cup early next year but captain Mithali Raj feels the team has had “good preparation” so far in 2021.
This year, India hosted South Africa for five ODIs before playing a three-match series in England and Australia each. They lost all three series but made Australia, the No. 1 team, work really hard for their 2-1 win and also ended their 26-match winning streak in the third ODI there.

India will play World Cup hosts New Zealand for five ODIs before the World Cup in March-April.

“We have played three best teams since March and it has given us good preparation,” Raj said after a partnership between KFC and Indian Deaf Cricket Association in Delhi on Wednesday. “Players have played domestic cricket and also in the Women’s Big Bash so they are getting game time which is the most important thing.

“We are getting to play in New Zealand before World Cup which is also good.”

India, who were unable to post 250-plus scores regularly earlier, did that twice in the Australia series and chased down 265 in the final ODI.

“When you play against a strong team in its backyard you try to give your best,” Raj said. “Though we lost the series, the matches were very close. We scored 270 (274) and chased 270-odd, if we can do that consistently we will be among the best sides in world cricket.”

India’s middle-order batting needs improvement but Raj said all departments must fire as a unit if they are to win the World Cup.

“We bat as a unit so you can’t pinpoint one area,” she said. “There are times when the top order failed and the others performed. As a unit if we look to post a good total then it will help. If we focus on one area like middle order then it becomes too much of a burden for that particular slot.”

India finished runners-up in the 2017 World Cup in England when not many expected them to but expectations will be higher this time.

“There were not enough expectations back then,” Raj said. “Now in 2021, players have got experience and got a lot of exposure with the T20 leagues. Overall we have young players but they have got enough exposure. It is just of matter of gelling well as a team.

“Every match will be different there. The quicker we read our opponents the better it will be for us.”



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The Ashes 2021-22 – Michael Vaughan stood down from BT Sport Ashes coverage after Azeem Rafiq allegations

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Channel to adopt a “hybrid” approach with Vaughan’s stints on Fox Sports to be overlaid

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, will not be heard by UK audiences during this winter’s Ashes in Australia, after BT Sport followed the BBC’s decision to remove him from their TV coverage of the series.

Vaughan, 47, was last week stood down from BBC Test Match Special’s coverage for “editorial” reasons, following allegations from Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire cricketer, that he had said “there are too many of you lot” following the selection of four players of Asian heritage in a county fixture in 2009.

Vaughan, who denies the allegations, apologised last week in an interview on BBC Breakfast for the “hurt” caused to Rafiq during his time as a player at Yorkshire, and will still be involved in this winter’s Ashes coverage through his commentary role with Fox Sports, the Australian host broadcaster.

However, BT Sport – who are due to take the Fox Sports feed after choosing not to send a bespoke commentary team to Australia – announced on Tuesday that they will be taking a “hybrid” approach to their coverage, with Vaughan’s on-air stints to be overlaid with studio analysis.

“As a result of Covid and travel restrictions BT Sport had made the decision to take our commentary feed from the Australian host broadcaster,” the channel said in a statement. “The recent report presented to UK Parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire County Cricket Club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all.

“Given these recent events and the controversy with the situation we have taken the decision that including Michael Vaughan within our Ashes coverage would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values. We are still finalising plans but we are assessing the option of taking a hybrid approach, using Fox commentary where possible with the aim of putting our own commentary team in place if necessary.”

Vaughan’s troubled build-up to the series continued on Tuesday, when he announced on Twitter that his arrival in Australia had been delayed by a week due to a positive Covid test. “[It] is frustrating,” he wrote. “But at least I’ll avoid the rain in Brisbane for a few days!”

However, his hopes of being retained by the BBC after the Ashes have received a boost, after the corporation confirmed that they had been in “regular contact” with Vaughan since his suspension, and had held “positive conversations with him in recent days”.

“Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael’s involvement in a story of such significance means it’s not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment,” the statement added. “We’re pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC.”

The BBC’s stance was criticised this week by his former England team-mate Monty Panesar, who wrote in a column in the Daily Telegraph: “This feels deeply unethical — a classic case of someone being tried and convicted without any form of due process being undertaken.”



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