What is astonishing, and dare I say, disappointing, about the contagion sweeping English cricket in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations, is the cowering response from players, fans, administrators and politicians. Of course this all in the face of a media that is resolute in its determination to tell only one side of the story; but to give them their due, there have been few if any rebuttals to report, so the entire nation appears to accept that English cricket is played and run by a bunch of mean-spirited racists, who do little other than make life miserable for foreign players of BAME descent.
Where Gary Ballance and I come from we might be forgiven for biting our tongues when pilloried but as Europeans in our homeland we are outnumbered by roughly 1000 to 1 so it is fair to say the odds are not in our favour in the event, we make a nuisance of ourselves by complaining of our treatment. However this is not the case in England where white people, of ostensibly Christian persuasion, are in the majority, albeit a dwindling majority. Despite this, and despite the fact, many perceive, or at least suspect, the unfairness of what has been meted out to Ballance, there has been absolutely no show of public support, from fellow players, supporters or management; the reaction has been an unedifying one with associates running for cover in the hope they avoid a dreaded portrayal as racist.
It appears this has not worked very well. Former Captain Michael Vaughn has lost his job for allegedly referring to ‘you lot’. Current captain Joe Root, who commiserated with the critics when pace-bowler Ollie Robinson was ‘outed’ for an innocuous post on social media 10 years ago, was lying low when Mr. Rafiq named him as an accomplice because he was present when the word ‘Paki’ was used and failed to censure the culprit. So Root is back on his knees. Former player and commentator, David Lloyd, who parades his ‘woke’ credentials with pride, has also been fingered for disparaging comments about Pakistani players contributing little to club culture and being reluctant to pay their subs. He was probably correct, but he has declined to defend his views and taken the knee.
In his hour of anguish, he can expect no sympathy from me or many of my countrymen; we well remember his niggardly behaviour following England’s defeat in Harare in 1992 when a scorned ‘chicken farmer’ by the name of Eddo Brandes destroyed the English batting and ushered in a surprise victory for the Zimbabweans. Unsurprisingly, then captain, Mike Atherton whose lack of sportsmanship was on show that day when he refused to be interviewed and could not find anything gracious to say, has made a voluble contribution to the chorus of condemnation aimed at Ballance.
It speaks volumes about the brilliant deviousness of the people who have run the schools, universities and the media in this once formidable island nation, that so many can be subdued by so few. They have been persuaded that despite their history of unparalleled greatness, they should feel no pride, only guilt and be brought to their knees in grovelling submission on the mere utterances of a man who owes his allegiance, not to their Queen, or the country they share, but to a religion. A dogma openly committed to the eradication, by violence, if necessary, of the values and traditions espoused by the very people who have kindly given him a home and an opportunity to prosper, that he almost certainly would not have had in his country of birth. What one wonders, would be the response in Pakistan, to a white Christian cricketer making similar allegations and demands? Would Ballance be compensated if he demanded redress because his provenance was demeaned or he was called an ‘infidel,’ ‘gora’ or ‘kafir’?
Some questions that require answers: If England is so harrowing a place, why is it so sought after as a workplace for professional cricketers from India, Pakistan and the Caribbean? Why has it taken Mr. Rafiq so long to register his distress? Why did he not complain the moment he was first referred to as a ‘Paki’. He has been playing cricket for Yorkshire since 2008 but only decided to tell his tale of woe upon losing form and losing his place; but this anomaly is also ignored by the craven inquisitors. Why is he allowed to make anti-semitic comments referring to Jews being miserly and avoid censure? Do people of Pakistani origin have different rights to those of people of Jewish descent?
And since when did abbreviating a country’s name become racist and offensive; who are the high priests of righteousness who have actually decreed thus? If ‘Paki’ is so devastating to a man’s sense of wellbeing does the same apply to use of the word ‘Aussie’ with respect to Australians, or ‘Zimbos’ when referring to Zimbabweans? Maybe the Irish ‘Paddys’ and Welsh ‘Taffys’ should seek an audience with MPS too? In the modern progressive world there are evidently different rules for different races and some people are simply not allowed to be victims.
The fact that the response from the players and the people who run the game has been so gutless seems set to ruin this great sport in fundamental ways. Selectors will have to consider the collateral consequences of dropping players ‘of colour’. Players of different races will almost certainly distance themselves from one another for fear of making an ‘offensive’ remark or using a pejorative. The joys of convivial comradeship in the club after the game are probably a thing of the past. Good natured ‘leg-pulling’ among close friends has become a social minefield.
And the days when the cricket pitch was an unruly place where tough guys armed with bats and a ball, met to do battle, where no quarter was given, when they slugged and slagged it out with verbal assaults that brought so much colour to the game, then took their bumps and bruises to the bar, had a beer and enjoyed the good cheer of a sporting brotherhood, are now over.
In an earlier version of this article The End Of The Great Game – Africa Unauthorised I was led to believe that Mr. Rafiq appeared in the photo appearing at the top of the article. This appears to be incorrect and I apologise. Our featured image designer also wishes to apologise for the mistake.