Dec 22, 2021: English county Yorkshire announced on Tuesday that they have partnered with Pakistan Super League team Lahore Qalandars, which includes a player exchange program following the damaging racist scandal at the English club.
Earlier this year, former Pakistan-born Azeem Rafique has accused Yorkshire of failing to properly deal with reports of abuse against him and other players from minority races in the county, saying he had suicidal thoughts. Rafique gave testimony in front of a parliamentary committee, revealing how the county and its members were steeped in racism.
The chairman and chief executive left the club in November, after which the entire coaching staff left earlier this month.
The county, which has been accused of failing to bring South Asian-born local cricketers to their doorsteps, said the new partnership was an opportunity to “learn and imitate” Qalandars’ player development program which provides opportunities and kits to over 150 young players. Pakistan fast bowler Harris Rauf will join Yorkshire as an overseas player for part of next season as part of an exchange program aimed at enabling international players to learn from each other. Scholarships will be available for young Yorkshire players to play in Lahore and cricketers from Pakistan will have the opportunity to come to England.
In addition, Yorkshire will play Qalandars in a friendly match on January 16 at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Kamlesh Patel, the new chairman of Yorkshire, said he hoped the partnership would help create a county that was “welcome and supportive of all.”
“The work that the Lahore Qalandars do both on and off the pitch is remarkable and can serve as a benchmark for clubs around the world – including us – to attract talent at all levels in the game of cricket. How to find, promote and support them. ” He added.
Interim director of cricket Darren Gough said he was “excited” to welcome Rauf, who plays one-day cricket and Twenty20 cricket for Pakistan, and was excited to learn from the player development program.
The former Yorkshire and England fast bowler said: “For many people like me from a background, cricket is not seen as an option, the associated costs and access to facilities are a real barrier to entry. This partnership is an opportunity to take Qalandars’ blueprint to such a level of success and to work with them to explain how it can be used to reach potential players across Yorkshire.”
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