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Yorkshire criticised for ‘woefully inadequate’ response to complaints

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Yorkshire were found to be “woefully inadequate” in protecting players and spectators from racist abuse, according to the report into Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism at the club.

While upholding complaints of racism or discriminatory behaviour against two of the coaching staff, the report also noted “a very real, prolific and highly concerning problem of Muslim spectators being subjected to racial abuse at Headingley”.

It went on to chastise the club for “a very concerning and alarming pattern” of failing to act when such behaviour was reported.

After hearing evidence, which included incidents of alcohol being thrown over Muslim spectators – including children – and the shouting of racist abuse – in one case by the grandparent of a current player – the report concluded the club “failed to deal, adequately or at all, with such allegations”. This inaction, the report said, could have the effect of discouraging Muslim spectators from attending.

The ECB has recently suspended Yorkshire from hosting major matches, including international games and Hundred knock-out fixtures, until they are able to prove they have taken action to improve the situation.

The incidents included in the report, which was produced by an independent panel, include one in which the grandfather of a player shouted “who are all those P**i kids running around” and several in which alcohol was deliberately thrown over Muslim spectators. A club employee described the management’s response to the incident as “not interested”.

While the incident involving the grandfather of the player was reported to the police, the panel said this should not have “absolved [the club] from taking further action”. As it was, they did not investigate further or take action against the individual concerned.

“The panel’s view is that the club’s actions have been woefully inadequate in protecting both spectators and players from being subjected to racist abuse by others, and their omissions have had the unfortunate result that those responsible for such behaviour have suffered no adverse consequences for their actions,” the report stated.

“The panel notes there appears to be a very concerning and alarming pattern of the club failing to take any action, or taking inadequate action, when such incidents are reported to them, and failing to adopt any or any adequate measures of prevention, control or elimination of racist abuse.

“The panel observes that the club could have made further enquiries and taken action such as banning the grandparent from attending the grounds, issuing a general statement or apology to those who were there and witnessed it, issuing a statement concerning how such language will not be tolerated by the Club, and reminding players that they are ultimately responsible for their family members’ actions on YCCC premises and that they must make every effort to ensure their families behave appropriately and respectfully.

The report concluded: “This is a historic problem which has continued precisely because YCCC have failed to address it or take any action in respect of it.”

Meanwhile, the panel upheld a complaint against a member of the coaching staff – a former international cricketer – for using “P**i” to address players of Pakistani origin. While the same panel dismissed Gary Ballance’s usage of the word on the basis that it was “banter” between friends, they concluded on this occasion that “the ‘P’ word is offensive and racially derogatory in every context within which it is used”.

Rafiq’s testimony was corroborated by another player who has played international cricket.

With the panel noting that the individual involved is an ECB Level 4 coach, they suggested the ECB may wish to “consider whether… disciplinary action or some other form of sanction would be appropriate”.

The panel also upheld a complaint against a more senior member of the coaching team – another former international player – for discriminating against former West Indies fast bowler Tino Best “on the grounds of his nationality and therefore his race”. That coach was alleged to have used the words “go home” during a disagreement following a game.

In the panel’s view, this was a reference to the overseas player’s nationality and therefore amounted “to discrimination on the grounds of race under the Equality Act 2010.”

They concluded: “The use of the term ‘go home’… has quite serious derogatory racial implications. The panel observes that such comments from senior members of staff… could have the effect of isolating players of a different nationality or signalling to players that the use of such phrases is acceptable and sanctioned by the club.

“Senior individuals at the club ought to be leading by example when it comes to their comments and conduct. If senior individuals are demonstrating behaviours contrary to that ethos, it will be more difficult to promote appropriate behaviour and language amongst players and other employees.”

Another member of the Yorkshire staff, head coach, Andrew Gale, has been suspended while an investigation is conducted into alleged anti-Semitic language used by them on social media.

In a separate development, Yorkshire have said they will investigate after their head of human resources reacted to a complaint from a spectator by calling them a “coward” and accusing them of “waging a campaign” against the club on social media. Khalid Akram had reported racist abuse in the stands at a game in 2018 and, more recently, took to social media to claim a lack of action from the club.

Yorkshire’s head of HR, Liz Neto, replied earlier this week, in an email seen by ESPNcricinfo, by claiming Akram had “breached my GDPR [data protection]” and contributed to “whipping up a crowd” by sharing a screenshot which included her contact details.

This “shows you to be a coward”, the email continued. “I hope you are proud.”

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo



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South Africa vs Netherlands 2021

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Although Netherlands are unable to catch a flight out, it is understood the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play

The second and third ODIs between South Africa and Netherlands have been postponed after concerns around a new Coronavirus variant, Omicron. The first match in the series, which forms part of the World Cup Super League, was washed out on Friday, leaving the teams sharing five points each. That keeps Netherlands in last place on the points table, and South Africa in ninth, outside the automatic qualification zone.

Although Netherlands will be in South Africa for the duration of the series because they are unable to catch a flight out, ESPNcricinfo understands that the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play. On Friday, their coach Ryan Campbell tweeted that the team played with “unbelievable pressure hanging over their heads,” after travel restrictions began to affect the southern African region.

“We are disappointed by the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in, but the comfort of all visiting teams must always be paramount,” Pholetsi Moseki, CSA’s acting CEO, said. “The mental well-being of players is one of CSA’s top priorities, and we respect our visitors’ position and point of view.

“CSA and KNCB will get into discussions around possibly rescheduling the tour within this cycle of the ICC Future Tours Programme ending in 2023.”

“We are saddened by these circumstances, but are grateful to Cricket South Africa for their assistance and understanding of our team’s position,” Jurgen Delfos, chairman of Netherlands cricket board, said. “

It must be made clear that the concerns are strictly over travel issues and how soon the team can get home and have nothing to do with the integrity of the Bio-Secure Environment (BSE) that CSA has successfully hosted. Our team has been pleased with every aspect of the organisation of the tour and have been well treated by our hosts.”

The United Kingdom, United States, much of Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have all banned travel to and from countries in southern Africa, and imposed a quarantine on their own citizens returning from the region in response to Omicron.

News of a new variant was first made public on Tuesday, November 23 and cases in the Gauteng province of South Africa, where the Netherlands series is taking place, have increased severalfold since. Although South Africa is only reporting around 2,000 new cases a day, there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter restrictions are due to be introduced soon. South Africa is currently on Level 1 of 5 of its restrictions, the most lenient since the pandemic began, and the first ODI was the first time since March 2020 that cricket was played in front of a limited crowd, but the government is meeting on Saturday to discuss further measures.

As yet there is no indication of how this will affect the rest of the cricket calendar. India A are also in South Africa, playing first-class matches against South Africa A in Bloemfontein. So far, that series is continuing. India’s senior side is due to travel to South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four ODIs on December 8. India has not imposed any restrictions on southern African travelers to date, but has stricter testing measures for people from the region in place.

Last summer, South Africa’s season was severely impacted after England left the country early without playing the ODI leg of their white-ball tour and Australia pulled out of a four-Test series which was pencilled in as the marquee event of the summer. Sri Lanka and Pakistan both toured the country without incident in strict bio-bubble conditions, which Cricket South Africa will replicate for the India series.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent





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Recent Match Report – Scorchers Wm vs StrikersWmn Final 2021/22

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The home side finished strongly with the bat and started superbly with the ball in the powerplay

Perth Scorchers 5 for 146 beat Adelaide Strikers 6 for 134 by 12 runs

Marizanne Kapp, who had been ill all week in the lead-up to the WBBL final and barely left her hotel room, produced a critical all-round display to help Perth Scorchers claim their maiden title as Adelaide Strikers’ powerful late-tournament surge came to a halt at Optus Stadium.
In front of a crowd of 15,511, the highest for a standalone WBBL match, the defining passages of the match were how Scorchers finished their batting innings and then started with the ball: their final five overs brought 47 runs, with vital hands from Player of the Match Kapp and Alana King, then they restricted Strikers to 2 for 16 in their powerplay with Kapp’s first two overs costing just two runs and Sophie Devine producing a wicket maiden.

The middle order did their best to keep Strikers in the match with useful hands but it proved out of reach despite Madeline Penna’s best efforts with 30 not out off 21 balls.

Kapp produced some superb deliveries to build the pressure on Strikers’ openers and it was Devine who earned the reward when Katie Mack’s extraordinary run of scoring was halted as he she drove to cover. Before this match Mack had made 332 runs in her last six innings for just one out.

Without a run added van Niekerk also departed, edging Taneale Peschel down the leg side, and by the end of the powerplay the asking rate was above nine an over.

Laura Wolvaardt and captain Tahlia McGrath rebuilt with a stand of 65 in eight overs which was forming a base from where Strikers could have run down the target. However, both fell within the space of six balls carving catches to the off-side ring which meant new batters had little time to get set.

The prolific Scorchers opening pair of Devine and Beth Mooney made a solid if unspectacular start after being put into bat, reaching 0 for 37 after the powerplay. They were immediately aggressive against Amanda-Jade Wellington who conceded more in her first four balls than she did the entire record-breaking Eliminator spell, although she would fight back well.

Neither opener could really cut loose and Strikers started to chip away at the top order. Mooney picked out mid-off, Devine was run out by a direct hit by Dane van Niekerk from short third and Chloe Piparo edged Darcie Brown who was rewarded for some rapid outswing bowling.

At 3 for 75 in the 12th the innings was at a tipping point and there was caution from Kapp and Heather Graham which threatened to leave Scorchers short. However, Kapp started to find the boundary and King made a dynamic late entrance with three boundaries in a five-ball stay.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021-22 in Zimbabwe called off following concerns over new Covid-19 variant

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The tournament cannot be rescheduled, as the ODI World Cup is scheduled for March-April 2022

The women’s ODI World Cup qualifying event in Zimbabwe has been called off after travel restrictions were imposed on large parts of southern Africa following the detection of a new Covid-19 variant, called Omicron, in the region. With the marquee event scheduled to take place next year in March and April, the qualifier cannot be held at a later date, and the three remaining spots will be decided according to the ICC rankings.

Hosts New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and India have already qualified for the tournament. They will now be joined by Bangladesh, West Indies and Pakistan.

The news will be a disappointment to Thailand, who do not have a ranking at the moment, but beat Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the tournament. Bangladesh were on top of Group B with wins over Pakistan and USA, while West Indies topped Group A after beating Ireland.

ESPNcricinfo has learned that the cutoff date for the women’s ODI rankings taken into consideration for deciding on the final three teams for 2022 ODI World Cup was September 30. Between the start of the pandemic and August 31, 2021, Pakistan played eight ODIs, winning two, West Indies played 10, winning three and having one tied, while Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh played none. Bangladesh, however, are understood to have been well ahead of Ireland and Sri Lanka on the rankings for more than a year.

Concerns over the future of the qualifier were raised on Saturday morning when the match between Sri Lanka and West Indies was called off without a ball bowled. ESPNcricinfo understands that the fixture could not be played because a member of the Sri Lankan support staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

“We are incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the remainder of this event but with travel restrictions from a number of African countries being imposed at such short notice, there was a serious risk that teams would be unable to return home,” Chris Tetley, the ICC head of events, said.

“We have explored a number of options to allow us to complete the event but it isn’t feasible and we will fly the teams out of Zimbabwe as soon as possible. Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 by virtue of their rankings, whilst Sri Lanka and Ireland will also join them in the next cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship.”

There had already been a few positive Covid-19 tests in the Sri Lanka camp after reaching Zimbabwe, the last of which was detected prior to their match against Netherlands on Tuesday. That match did go ahead with Sri Lanka winning a rain-affected fixture by 34 runs.

On the whole, Zimbabwe’s caseload remains relatively low at under 135,000, with fewer than 5000 deaths. However, with travel in and out of the country becoming increasingly difficult, the qualifier had to be scrapped for logistical reasons. Emirates Airline, which flew the teams into Harare, is understood to be suspending the route in the coming days.

The variant was first discovered in Botswana and has infected several hundred people in neighbouring South Africa, which is on the brink of a fourth wave of infection. The UK, USA, much of Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka and Thailand have all suspended travel to and from countries in southern Africa, putting several international events in doubt.

The women’s World Cup qualifiers got underway on Sunday, November 21, amid low case numbers in southern Africa, but Papua New Guinea had been “forced to withdraw” from the tournament at the start of the month due to a slew of infections in the camp. News of a new variant was first made public on Tuesday, November 23, and cases in the Gauteng province of South Africa have increased several fold since. Although South Africa is reporting around 2000 new cases a day, there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter restrictions are due to be introduced soon. South Africa is currently on Level 1 of 5 of its restrictions, the most lenient since the pandemic began.
The Netherlands men’s team is currently in South Africa playing a World Cup Super League ODI series and have two matches left to play. A decision on whether those are going to go ahead will be taken today.

India A are also in South Africa, playing first-class matches in Bloemfontein. So far, that series is known to be on schedule, since the region is regarded as safe. India’s senior side is due to travel to South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four ODIs on December 8. India has not imposed any restrictions on southern African travellers yet, but has installed stricter testing measures for people from the region.



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