Former Pakistan international Rana Naved-ul-Hasan has spoken out about his experiences of racism while an overseas player at Yorkshire CCC.
The fast bowler played for Yorkshire in 2008 and 2009, and was, last month, mentioned in a Wisden.com interview by Azeem Rafiq, the former Yorkshire off-spinner, who recalled a story near the start of his career at Headingley.
“There’s one comment that stands out for me,” Rafiq said. “And I remember it to this day. It was around the time of my debut. There was me, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. We’re walking onto the field and one player said: ‘There’s too many of you lot. We need to have a word about that.’
“You can imagine the sort of thing that leaves on you, and you hear these things all day, every day.”
Yorkshire offered no comment when that interview was published but, 17 days later, after Rafiq spoke out further to ESPNcricinfo, announced they would launch an investigation into the specific allegations made by Rafiq and a wider review of the club’s policies and culture.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Rana said he supports Rafiq “fully” and claimed that he faced racism from supporters and discriminatory practices from the club itself.
“I fully support what Azeem said and this has been the case with me as well,” Rana said. “I never spoke about it because, as foreigners, we were temporary and somehow I managed to accept the way it is. So I just focussed on playing cricket. I never wanted to jeopardise my contracts.
“There was systematic taunting and it’s tough to do much about it. To us as overseas players from Asia, when you are not able to perform, the home crowd which should be supporting us, instead they started hooting and would taunt us with racist slurs like ‘P***’.
“If you are performing then you get all the space but, in case I am not taking wickets, the attitude suddenly started to change. They started to give us a tough time, giving me a smaller hotel room and there used to be a clear case of discrimination. They would do some strange things to annoy us and make you feel lesser. It wasn’t abusive but their attitude wasn’t friendly towards Asians.
“At time I used to feel bad, but I decided to ignore it because I knew I was not going to live there permanently. But I know what Azeem went through. He did share his frustration in my playing days. The way he was released by the club wasn’t ideal and says a lot about them, but I had been advising him to stay strong and take it as a challenge.”
Rana played for Sussex before and after his stint with Yorkshire, and has also spent time at Derbyshire, and said his experience at Yorkshire was different to elsewhere.
“This only happens in Yorkshire,” he said. “I played several years for Sussex and they were tremendous; they treated me like their own family. Those two years were absolutely great. Even my first year in Yorkshire was okay but the trouble started in the second year.”
“Mr Naveed’s comments in relation to his and Mr Rafiq’s experiences playing for Yorkshire in 2009 are very concerning and we take them very seriously,” Yorkshire County Cricket Club said in a statement to ESPNcricinfo.
“We have recently engaged an independent law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and they will report their findings in due course. In addition, we have also appointed a sub-committee, led by Dr Samir Pathak and supported by NACC Chairman, Mr Gulfraz Riaz, to review the findings of the investigation and provide advice on any further steps the club needs to take.
“We have committed to sharing recommendations which result from the investigation but as it is now underway are unable to comment on specific matters. There is no place for racism in cricket and we take these matters very seriously.”