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Lord Patel confident in changes Yorkshire have made to restore club’s image

Lord Patel has been Yorkshire chair for a year (Mike Egerton/PA).
Lord Patel has been Yorkshire chair for a year (Mike Egerton/PA).

Yorkshire chair Lord Kamlesh Patel is confident in the changes that have been made at the county after “sustained and personal attacks” during the past year.

Patel was appointed to the role 12 months ago as Yorkshire underwent a mass overhaul of personnel, including in the boardroom and coaching staff, following Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism at the club.

Rafiq gave testimony about the racial abuse and bullying he experienced to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee last November, and is set to reappear before the same committee alongside Lord Patel next month.

There is also a Cricket Discipline Commission hearing scheduled to start at the end of this month after the England and Wales Cricket Board charged a number of individuals over Rafiq’s allegations, and charged Yorkshire over their handling of those allegations, back in June.

Writing in an open letter published on their official website on Wednesday, Lord Patel said that there had been plenty of criticism of Yorkshire during his tenure.

He said: “Looking back on the year has given me cause to consider what an individual should be expected to put up with in the face of attempting to enact change.

“There have been times when this has crossed the line into sustained and personal attacks. We do not want to stoop to that level, but it does make me question the interest specific parties have in the long-term health of the club – over their own self-interest and desire for things to go back to how they were.

“The lack of anger from those same individuals towards those who failed to address the clear issues raised by Azeem Rafiq has been notable.

“The decisions that we have taken as a club have always been made in its best interests, including management changes.

“I have my own experiences to share in due course, and welcome the opportunity to do this publicly at the DCMS hearings that have been set for December. It is sure to be an illuminating process to see how far cricket has come since I last sat before the same MPs at the beginning of the year.

“2023 may be a vintage year for cricket – we can’t wait for the Ashes in front of a full house in Leeds – but there will be more harsh realities across the game which we must face into.

“There is still much to do to make us a club of which we can be truly proud. But with the structure and people we now have in place, I have the strongest faith that we will come together through our determination to be back at the pinnacle of English cricket for the long-term.”

Lord Patel spoke of “the many challenges we have faced, some of which we have successfully addressed, some of which we are working through and some of which remain challenging”.

Azeem Rafiq (centre) in the stands during an England Test at Headingley (Mike Egerton/PA).
Lord Patel became Yorkshire chair as the county underwent changes following the racism allegations of Azeem Rafiq (centre) (Mike Egerton/PA).

He added: “The fact we remain standing should not be underestimated. When I walked into the club, we had lost the bulk of our sponsors and had seen the great privilege of hosting international and major matches taken away from Headingley.”

Lord Patel also spoke about Yorkshire’s new chief executive Stephen Vaughan. He had been working at Wasps, who went into administration last month, with Vaughan one of 167 immediate job losses.

Lord Patel described Vaughan as “passionate about fostering an inclusive culture” and said: “Given what has happened at Wasps in recent weeks, Stephen’s appointment has been reported in that context which is inevitable. Yet he has spoken openly and emotionally about the circumstances that led to the situation.

“As a board, we were satisfied that the challenging financial situation predated his appointment – indeed, his calm handling of a turbulent situation demonstrated the cool head that is sure to be required at times here.”