Yorkshire cricket racism hearing told ‘Tim Bresnan used racial slur towards Azeem Rafiq sister’

Azeem Rafiq and Tim Bresnan celebrate taking a wicket for Yorkshire when they were team-mates in 2016
Azeem Rafiq and Tim Bresnan were team-mates at Yorkshire between 2008-2014 and 2016-18

Former England bowler Tim Bresnan used a racial slur towards Azeem Rafiq’s sister, a hearing into allegations of racism at Yorkshire has been told.

Rafiq claimed Bresnan used the term towards his sister Amna during a media day at Headingley in 2014.

Bresnan, who is not taking part in the process, denies the allegation.

The claim was part of the evidence heard on the first day of the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) hearing into alleged racism at Yorkshire.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) also set out its cases against former England bowler Matthew Hoggard and ex-Yorkshire coach John Blain, who have both withdrawn from proceedings.

The ECB will state its cases against former Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale and bowling coach Richard Pyrah, who will both not attend, on Thursday before moving on to former England captain Michael Vaughan, who is set to appear.

Rafiq said former Yorkshire team-mates Bresnan and Gary Ballance used the phrase in reference to his sister’s Pakistani heritage when they saw her at the media day while she was on work experience with the county.

Ballance has previously admitted using the term. He has admitted liability in response to his charge and will not participate.

The allegation formed part of the ECB’s case against Bresnan, who has been charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

The ECB’s lawyer Jane Mulcahy, speaking at the International Arbitration Centre in London, said Rafiq also alleged Bresnan used the racial slur towards or about Asian women he found attractive from about 2014 onwards.

Rafiq also claimed Bresnan, 38, used the phrase to refer to an Asian woman who walked past them in a bar at a team hotel in Birmingham in July 2018.

Bresnan, who played 23 Tests and 85 one-day internationals for England, said he had never and would never use these terms.

In his initial response to the ECB and an interview with the governing body, Bresnan denied he had ever met Amna Rafiq. Later, he admitted he had seen her from afar when she was working at Leicester.

Bresnan, who withdrew from proceedings in February, also denied ever being alone in a bar with Rafiq.

What are the other claims against Bresnan?

The two other parts of the charge against Bresnan concern allegations he used the terms “the brothers” and “you lot” in reference to Asian players at Yorkshire.

Rafiq alleged Bresnan would regularly refer to him and other Asian players including England spinner Adil Rashid as “the brothers”.

It is also claimed Bresnan used the term towards Rafiq, Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan before a Twenty20 match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in June 2009.

Vaughan is accused of saying “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” to those four Asian players before the same match, which he “completely and categorically denies”.

Bresnan said he had no recollection of asking “what are the brothers doing for dinner?” and said he was unlikely to use that phraseology. He said he did use the term “brothers” or “brother” but not in a racial context.

Shahzad said in his interview with the ECB that he did not hear Bresnan use racist terminology but he declined to provide a witness statement to the CDC proceedings.

Rafiq accused Bresnan of using the phrase “you lot” regularly, and specifically towards him and Rashid before a County Championship match against Derbyshire on 15 August 2012.

Bresnan admitted using the term regularly but denied it was in a racial context. He also said he had no recollection of the specific game against Derbyshire.

Bresnan is also accused of asking former Yorkshire player Moin Ashraf “why do you lot pray before you bowl?” during T20 Finals Day in August 2012. Bresnan said he asked because he was genuinely interested and denied using the phrase “you lot” as part of the question.

The ECB’s case is that it is “more likely than not” Bresnan used these phrases in a racist or discriminatory manner, given Yorkshire have admitted a “systemic” use of such language during the relevant period, that Bresnan has admitted using the terms – albeit denying any racial connotation – and that others involved in the case have admitted using such terms.

ECB denies claims from non-participants

In the ECB’s opening submissions, Mulcahy took the opportunity to “correct a number of misrepresentations” about the disciplinary process she claimed had been made by Bresnan, Blain, Pyrah and Hoggard to the media.

Pyrah and Bresnan both claimed they had never been interviewed during the ECB’s investigation, but the ECB said it has evidence to the contrary, namely interview transcripts.

Hoggard made a similar claim, but the ECB has evidence showing that after it initially wrote to him with the opportunity to provide written responses to the allegations made against him, he did so before informing the ECB he would not respond further, therefore denying himself the opportunity of an interview.

Mulcahy also questioned Hoggard’s claim he was not invited to participate in the investigation into Rafiq’s claims by law firm Squire Patton Bogg (SPB), which upheld seven of the 43 allegations.

She said emails from former acting chief executive Paul Hudson to Hoggard included attached emails from the investigation team to Hoggard, who denies receiving those messages. Hudson also reported the investigation team left a voicemail for Hoggard in March 2021.

More detail on Hoggard charge

Former England bowler Hoggard was charged by the ECB following allegations he used racial slurs as well as referring to Rafiq and other Asian players in the Yorkshire squad as “you lot”.

He admitted to using the first racist term and while he does not remember specifically using the second, he denied any racist or discriminatory intent. He also denied referring to Asian players or any other ethnic group as “you lot”.

It is also alleged Hoggard used the term ‘token black man’ or ‘TBM’ towards Ismail Dawood in 2004 and/or 2005 in the dressing room and in public.

Hoggard claims ex-wicketkeeper and umpire Dawood gave himself the nickname on Hoggard’s stag do in Dublin.

Dawood told BBC Sport in February this was “another feeble attempt to malign and ridicule” and was “simply not true”, and in his witness statement said Hoggard had used the phrase throughout the 2004 season.

What is happening in the hearing?

It has been more than two-and-a-half years since former Yorkshire spinner Rafiq first made claims of racism at the county, later calling English cricket “institutionally racist”.

The hearing concludes on 9 March and the first day of proceedings, along with the following three days, are being held in public. The rest will be conducted in private.

A three-person panel will hear disciplinary proceedings brought against Yorkshire and seven individuals who were all charged by the ECB with bringing the game into disrepute.

The panel comprises CDC chair, lawyer and former Derbyshire batsman Tim O’Gorman, Mark Milliken-Smith KC – a lawyer with specialist knowledge of sports law – and Dr Seema Patel, a senior law lecturer at Nottingham Trent University.

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