Watching county cricket next summer seems a long way off, just as well after Azeem Rafiq’s evidence to MPs this week about the Yorkshire dressing room. Poor stuff, disappointing for those of us who had hoped cricket, of all sports, had players who were essentially above and beyond it.
But not to ignore the fact that Adil Rashid has made the England team, nor the positive comments reported from Ajmal Shahzad about his experiences at the club. Or to deny that Yorkshire’s management tried to prejudge the outcome of their investigations, making it harder for outsiders to appreciate the extent of the problem.
So the case for the defence of Yorkshire, the institution, such as it might be has gone unheard. It was pointed out that something like 30% of recreational cricketers have a south Asian heritage, the pros at Yorkshire, in county cricket generally, much less, under 5%.
Yet fair to add that a career as a pro can be a precarious one: giving it a go, taking time out from studies and/or other careers a risk, a sacrifice if things don’t work out and to state the obvious the better the alternatives the less appealing it be.
FWIW personal experience of mainly BAME students over the years in London also pursuing (semi-)pro sporting careers divided largely along ethnic lines: 5th/6th/7th tier footballers, mainly black and mixed ethnicity, 2nd/3rd tier rugby players, smaller numbers, white. Potential cricketers going for county trials…more actual Olympians in boats.
So time outs to give a football career a go; a big magnet, some general understanding of those who want to leave no regrets. Cricket, niche, more reluctance; which points to the numbers of cricket pros from an Asian background squeezed by problems in the game and also by the openings in the world beyond.