Tim Bresnan has apologised for bullying Azeem Rafiq during his time at Yorkshire, but denied making any racist comments after being named by the latter in his evidence given to MPs at a DCMS committee investigating racism in cricket.
Rafiq’s testimony detailed in great depth his experience of racist treatment at the hands of Yorkshire CCC. Bresnan was named by Rafiq in his oral testimony, with the former off-spinner suggesting his treatment by the club differed after he, along with several others, alleged bullying claims against the ex-England all-rounder.
“Six or seven players made a complaint about Tim Bresnan that year, but I was the only one that got the repercussions of that,” Rafiq said. “I was the only person of colour. I first raised it as bullying in 2017. A month before I was called a leader, a potential captain, a driver on the field, someone who we should potentially build a team around, especially in white-ball cricket. I raised that complaint about Tim Bresnan, and Tim, former England cricketer, also related to the coach, I knew there was potentially going to be real trouble. But I thought with everyone complaining, it would be safe for everyone, but on the flipside the board minutes say I’m a problem, a troublemaker, and an issue that needs to be resolved. I feel that that then blinded them into how they treated me through the pregnancy and the loss of my son. My first day back after losing my son, Martyn Moxon got me in a room and ripped shreds off me. I’ve never seen him speak to anyone like that, from my time at the club and I couldn’t believe it.”
After his testimony finished, Bresnan apologised in a statement put out through his current club, Warwickshire CCC.
“I have been made aware of the bullying claims made against me and have listened to Azeem Rafiq’s account of his time at Yorkshire CCC today with great distress, as I’m sure everyone will have done,” the statement read. “For any part I played in contributing to Azeem Rafiq’s experience of feeling bullied at Yorkshire, I apologise unreservedly.”
However, in written evidence provided to the committee, Rafiq went further in detailing the bullying in question and accused Bresnan of making racist comments.
“As with Andrew [Gale, Yorkshire coach], Tim frequently made racist comments and was unduly harsh towards me compared to white British players, which became so unbearable that I made a formal complaint against him in 2017,” he wrote.
He also wrote that, “Tim would participate with and encourage Gary in the racist comments and jokes that were directed at me (for example, comments like ‘is that your uncle’s shop?’), laughing along at such remarks. Tim was a senior player who had played for England. I believe that if Tim had pulled Gary up, rather than encouraging him, it would not have continued.”
Bresnan put a statement out on Twitter denying the allegation of making racist comments. Adding to his earlier statement, he wrote, “Following the publication of Azeem’s witness statement from the employment tribunal, which I saw for the first time this afternoon, I must though categorically deny his accusation that I ‘frequently made racist comments’. This is absolutely not true.”
Warwickshire, who had put out a statement responding to the bullying accusations, released a further statement in response to the allegations of racist comments.
“This is the first time Warwickshire CCC has seen this statement, and we are seriously concerned to learn of Azeem’s direct allegations against Tim Bresnan,” Mark McCafferty, Warwickshire chairman, said. “As a result, Warwickshire CCC will seek to talk to Azeem at the earliest opportunity so that we can fully understand the detail of these allegations. We will then talk to Tim to get his perspective. While he is devastated to learn of these newly published allegations, Tim has already told us that he will fully cooperate with this process.
“This is a delicate matter, as it involves allegations about Tim’s behaviour while at another club. However, as we have said before, racism or bullying will not be tolerated here at Warwickshire, and we will not shirk from investigating these matters in full and taking action if necessary.
“Warwickshire CCC must reflect the communities that we serve at every level, with Edgbaston a safe and welcoming place for all.”