One of only two non-white presidents of a first-class county resigned on Thursday – on the eve of the unveiling of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s plan to avoid a repeat of the racism scandal to engulf the match.
In timing that could hardly have been worse for the ECB’s attempt to prove it was serious about tackling the lack of diversity in sport, Mehmooda Duke of Leicestershire resigned with immediate effect, proclaiming: “Cricket has been torn apart by recent events. “
She also spoke of the need for ‘new leadership at the national level’, raising questions as to whether she required ECB CEO Tom Harrison or simply referring to research by the governing body of a new president.
Duke, also the only female president of the country’s 18 biggest clubs, announced in September that she would leave at the end of her third term in March to take on the role of High Sheriff for Leicestershire.
She did not respond to requests for comment Thursday night on why she had brought forward her departure or whether it was related to the ECB’s planned unveiling Friday of its five-point plan to make the game more diverse and inclusive.
Duke, who was appointed chairman of Leicestershire in 2019 and helped lead the club through the coronavirus crisis, said: ‘Cricket has been torn apart by recent events and I am deeply saddened by the pain felt by individuals within our game.
“With new leadership at the national level and with the determination to learn from the recent past and move forward, I hope that racism and discrimination will be eliminated from the locker rooms, the fields and the game as a whole,” allowing us to celebrate the diversity that makes cricket and sport so great in this country.
Duke had been the only non-white president of a first-class county before the appointment of Lord Patel of Bradford in Yorkshire following the racism scandal that sparked the current gambling crisis.
As revealed by Sport Telegraph, the governing body’s five-point plan calls for 30% of roles in all first-class county and county council chambers to be held by women or feature a “representative ethnicity” from their region by April .
It will also see all of the game’s players, staff, referees and coaches undergoing ongoing diversity training to make it ‘best in class’ following Azeem Rafiq’s heartbreaking testimony to Parliament on racism. of which he was a victim in Yorkshire.
The plan will include “a comprehensive review of dressing room culture across all international and national teams” which will be released when completed and used to “inform future roster” according to the document seen by Sport Telegraph.
The ECB hopes this will help “create a culture to eliminate discrimination” and “make cricket the most open and inclusive sport in the country”.
The governing body will commit £ 25million to fund the five-year plan.
Meanwhile, Rafiq met a Holocaust survivor at the Jewish Museum in London on Thursday, a week after apologizing for using anti-Semitic slurs in an exchange of messages with another cricketer.
Rafiq met Ruth Barnett, who arrived in Britain in 1939 after fleeing Nazi Germany, and also spoke to Steve Silverman about the Campaign against Anti-Semitism, who explained to him the origins of the prejudices suffered by the Jewish people, especially about money.
Rafiq admitted last week that he sent messages over a decade ago joking that Derbyshire player Atif Sheikh was reluctant to spend money on a meal because “he is Jewish”.
Rafiq wrote that Sheikh “the problems would go after my seconds [second helping of food] again ha “, adding:” Only Jews do tht [sic] sort of s —.
Admitting to writing the posts, Rafiq said: “I am incredibly angry with myself and apologize to the Jewish community and to anyone who is rightly offended by this. “
As revealed by Sport Telegraph, Rafiq faces an ECB probe into the messages.