Former England international Roland Butcher had had enough

Roland Butcher, the first black cricketer to represent England, believes the time for just talking about racial issues is over and is calling for tangible change.

Azeem Rafiq’s claims of institutional racism during his two stints in Yorkshire led to an explosive appearance before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Selection Committee (DCMS) in November and sparked much soul-searching within cricket.

Lord Patel, chairman of New Yorkshire, has overseen a stir among staff in the backroom following his appointment, as the England and Wales Cricket Board announced two months ago a 12-point action plan to tackle all forms of discrimination.

Azeem Rafiq's allegations of racism in Yorkshire have shaken cricket to the core (House of Commons/PA)
Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism in Yorkshire have shaken cricket to the core (House of Commons/PA)

Butcher, who played three Tests and three one-day internationals in the early 1980s, said: “I’m not interested in the words, I want to see action.

Azeem Rafiq criticizes Mike O’Farrell’s comments about lack of diversity in cricket

“If I can look and say, ‘Yeah, that’s what happened’, I’m sure to feel comfortable. Talk is cheap and promises are comfort to a fool. I want to see action.”

The position of ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has come under scrutiny in recent months, with the governing body criticized for its initial hands-off approach to Rafiq’s allegations.

But Harrison insisted he has the backing of the game’s key decision-makers to steer cricket through the scandal, and Butcher has urged the ECB to correct the course, which he believes would change other sports’ attitudes to diversity. can influence.

Speaking at a ‘Bat For A Chance’ event outside the Kensington Oval in Barbados to facilitate kit donations to projects in the country, Butcher added: “I would have liked the ECB to intervene earlier.

ECB chief Tom Harrison has promised to lead the game out of the crisis (Hollie Adams/PA)
ECB chief Tom Harrison has promised to lead the game out of the crisis (Hollie Adams/PA)

“I thought it was taking them too long to get the situation under control and deal with it, but the fact is they’ve got a handle on it now, so I’ll wait and see how that plays out.

“They have a lot of work to do, a lot of people are very busy with their cause because a lot of people feel like they’ve really stuck their heads in the sand, but they now have a great opportunity to get things right.

“They can really set the tone for the future and not only send a message for cricket, but also lead some of the other sports that are currently struggling with their own diversity issues.

“You get people from all walks of life involved in sports. If you can get a level playing field for everyone, everyone can benefit.”


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