ECB to probe 'Kevin' slur after Azeem Rafiq's racism claims

ECB to probe ‘Kevin’ slur after Azeem Rafiq’s racism claims

An emotional Rafiq made a compelling testimony to DCMS select committee on November 16.

Azeem Rafiq
Azeem Rafiq. (Photo by Philip Brown/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq told British lawmakers that Garry Ballance used to use the name “Kevin” in a derogatory way to refer to the Asians and black players in the Yorkshire team.

An emotional Rafiq made a compelling testimony to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee on November 16, making a slew of shocking revelations, including how players from Asia were asked to “sit near toilets‘ in the dressing room.

Rafiq stated about Balance’s repeated usage of the term “Kevin” and introducing the term in the dressing, much like the racial term P***, which Ballance admitted using earlier. “Kevin was something Gary (Ballance) used for people of colour in a derogatory manner. All the time,” Rafiq said.

“Gary and Alex (Hales) got close to each other playing for England, but I understand Alex went on to name his dog Kevin because it was black. It is disgusting how much of a joke it became.”

Hales, it is learned, has denied the allegation, stating that the name of his dog was inspired by comedian Kevin Bridges. Although, England and Wales Cricket Board executive Tom Harrison, who claimed not being aware of the abuse and unfair treatment Rafiq was subjected to at Yorkshire until his witness statement was published, has assured for a fair investigation into the matter.

“We’ve been aware of the importance of this agenda – not just racism, but diversity and equality,” Harrison said. “What we’ve struggled with is getting our first-class game to wake up. If we’re not in an emergency, we’re approaching one.”

Rafiq, who was a victim of racial harassment during both his stints at the club, admitted he was “in denial” and could not understand what happened around during his maiden spell. “Pretty early on at the club, I joined a dressing room full of my heroes, Michael Vaughan, Matthew Hoggard, part of the 2005 Ashes team. And it was just the most surreal moment for me,” Rafiq said.

“Pretty early on, me and other people from an Asian background … there were comments such as ‘you’ll sit over there near the toilets’, ‘elephant washers’. The word ‘Pa**’ was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one ever stamped it out.”

“All I wanted to do is play cricket and play for England and live my dream and live my family’s dream. In my first spell, I don’t really think I quite realised what it was. I think I was in denial,” he added.