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    Azeem Rafiq has not yet received a direct apology from Colin Graves for the racism he has experienced in Yorkshire
Azeem Rafiq has not yet received a direct apology from Colin Graves for the racism he has experienced in Yorkshire
Colin Graves speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee via Getty Images

Azeem Rafiq has not yet received a direct apology from Colin Graves for the racism he has experienced in Yorkshire

During his appearance before the DCMS select committee, the chairman from Yorkshire stated that he did not believe it was appropriate to call Rafiq.

Colin Graves, the former chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, has yet to apologise directly to Azeem Rafiq for the racism he suffered while playing for the team. During his appearance before the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Graves apologised to Rafiq for the discrimination he experienced. However, during the hearing, John Nicolson MP asked Graves why he had not personally apologised to Rafiq. Graves responded that at the time, he did not feel it was appropriate to call Rafiq.

Graves recently returned as Yorkshire chairman, a role he held from 2012 to 2015, during which time the club was fined £400,000 for failing to address the systemic use of racist or discriminatory language. This followed revelations by Rafiq, who spoke out about his experiences of racism while playing for the club.

Last month, Graves issued a 'personal and unreserved' apology to all victims of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. His return to the board was confirmed, and it will be ratified at an emergency general meeting (EGM) at Headingley on February 2. During the select committee, Graves reiterated his apology, stating that discrimination or racism towards anyone from a minority ethnic background in Yorkshire should never have happened.

Graves also apologised for his previous use of the word 'banter' in an interview last year, as he now understands the insensitivity of that word. He reiterated his claim that he was never made aware of any racial issues when he used to chair Yorkshire.

When the possibility of Graves' return was discussed in January, Rafiq wrote a newspaper column urging sponsors to withdraw their support from the club. But Graves claimed no sponsors left since he took over. Six more have expressed an interest in holding talks.

Graves has emphasised that his main priority is to stabilise Yorkshire's finances, and he estimates he will step down after two to three years of work. As a return to the club, Yorkshire is about to receive an immediate injection of £1 million, followed by a further £4 million investment. Graves became first involved with the club in similar financial circumstances in 2002. As founder of the Costcutter the supermarket chain, he rescued the business from bankruptcy. The club still owes nearly £15 million to his family trust, which is run by independent trustees.

Meanwhile, Cindy Butts, chairwoman of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC), which last year produced a report exposing racism, sexism, and classism in the sport, appeared before the committee to accuse former England all-rounder Lord Ian Botham of "untruths" surrounding the report.

Butts told John Nicolson MP that Lord Botham had been invited to give evidence to the committee, despite his claims that he had not been asked for any input. Botham criticised the ICEC findings as 'nonsense' and deemed the ECB's commissioning of the report a 'complete and utter waste of money'. Butts also expressed disappointment that the ECB did not hold Lord Botham accountable, stating that they should have taken a moral stance on the issue.

Butts clarified that Lord Botham was invited to provide evidence but did not respond. Durham, the county he chairs, contributed to the call for written evidence, and the ECB is grateful for their contribution.

During the select committee hearing, ECB Chairman Richard Thompson revealed that he had called Lord Ian Botham to discuss his recent comments and expressed his disagreement with them. The same day, the ECB released a progress report on its efforts to promote inclusivity in cricket following the ICEC report. The report stated that 11 out of 12 programmes were on track. Richard Gould, the ECB's CEO, and his deputy, Clare Connor, also appeared before the committee.

Earlier this month, the ECB announced that Connor, the former England women's captain and interim CEO before Gould's appointment, would be stepping down from her post for personal reasons at the conclusion of the hearing.

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