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Friday Mar 31, 2023
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Imran Khan talks about 'open racism' in English cricket

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Pakistans former captain Imran Khan. — Reuters
Pakistan's former captain Imran Khan. — Reuters

Pakistan's former captain Imran Khan has recently revealed rampant racism in English cricket, recalling the time when he played cricket as skipper of two different county teams.

Khan, a versatile all-rounder, had played for the Sussex and Worcestershire counties between the 1970s and 1980s.

“Look, I haven’t had much time to watch cricket as my life hasn’t given me spare time in the last four years but I read about the Yorkshire racism scandal,” the cricketer-turned-politician said in an interview with Times Radio on Friday.

“From the time I started, which was 1971 as a teenager, to the point I was finishing cricket in the mid-80s, I saw a change take place in England. There was a lot of open racism in English cricket and county cricket when I started but by the end of my career somehow if there was racism it went undercover.

“You did not have the word racism by the time I finished in the sort of mid to late 80s but when I started off there was all the time racist remarks on the field. Even the Pakistanis, especially in the north of England, would suffer racism. There were these skinheads who would you know call you a P*** and abuse you on the streets.

“It gradually began to change and by the time I finished there was much less racism.”

It must be noted that a hearing into the racism scandal in Yorkshire took place earlier this month, where ex-player Azeem Rafiq gave evidence more than two years after he made damning allegations over his treatment by the English county cricket club.

Pakistan-born Rafiq, 32, first raised allegations of racism and bullying in September 2020, related to his two spells in Yorkshire.

He told a British parliamentary committee in December 2022 the abuse he and his family had faced had forced him to leave the UK.

Rafiq accused Yorkshire of failing to deal adequately with the abuse he suffered at the northern county, saying he had been driven to thoughts of suicide.

The row had drawn in senior British government ministers and politicians, as well as governing body the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Disrepute charges against seven individuals with prior connections to the county were issued by the ECB last June, with the club also charged.