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Yorkshire urged not to ‘cut off’ coaching staff sacked in wake of racism storm

Head coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon were among the casualties after Yorkshire sacked its coaching team on Friday as the fallout from the Azeem Rafiq scandal continues.

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Azeem Rafiq: Racism is not banter

Cricket icon Michael Holding has called for compassion in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq scandal and hopes those staff who recently departed Yorkshire are not “cut off” from the club.

Head coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon were among the 16 coaching members sacked by the county on Friday.

That announcement came in the wake of Rafiq’s accusations that he’d experienced racism, harassment and bullying during his two stints at Headingley (2008-14, 2016-18).

But former West Indies pace bowler Holding has advocated for those who have been fired to receive aid if required, suggesting Yorkshire should play a role in any rehabilitation.

“I would hope that no one just gets cut off,” said the retired commentator.

West Indies legend Michael Holding has urged cricket to not shun those who recently left the Yorkshire cricket coaching staff
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“They will look at themselves and say ‘hey, maybe I went wrong somewhere along the line, let me see where I can help myself’.

“And of course the organisation that they worked for before should also be willing to reach out to them to help them.

“They may be so bitter that they don’t want anything to do with the organisation, who knows? But the organisation should not just turn its back on these people.”

He also pleaded for compassion on behalf of those let go by the club, adding: “They are human beings, they have families, and they should get the help that they need, so that we can move on. This isn’t just a Yorkshire problem.”

Former Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale served as head coach for five years
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Holding, 67, recently won the William Hill Sports Book Of The Year award for “Why We Kneel, How We Rise”, which explores the ways in which racism spreads and how to combat prejudice.

The mass sacking at Yorkshire has not been well-received by many, with reports that some of the county’s players have even threatened to leave as a direct result.

Yorkshire confirmed club legend Darren Gough as their new director on Monday, and the ex-captain faces a major task in restoring the Vikings’ image to its former glories.

Along with the senior coaching staff, Yorkshire even confirmed the “backroom medical team, external services provided by Pavilion Physiotherapy Clinic, has also left,” showing the extent of their desire to start afresh.

“I don’t know what the people who have left Yorkshire have done or said. But 16 people, that seems huge to me,” Holding continued. “Sometimes you have to totally destroy a building and rebuild it. And perhaps that’s what needs to happen now.

“I get the impression the entire racism debate is heading towards being a little bit toxic. We don’t need the toxicity. We don’t need people to be pariahs, we need a coming together.

“Action must be taken, but it should be taken against people who have perpetuated this over a long period of time.

“If someone makes one mistake, you don’t fall like a ton of bricks on that person. We should be a lot more open-minded and forgiving, and bring people into the fold.”

The investigation that followed Rafiq’s allegations found the former spinner had indeed been “the victim of inappropriate behaviour” during his time at Headingley.

Azeem Rafiq testified in front of a parliamentary inquiry regarding his experiences of racism and bullying while at Yorkshire
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It was alleged this included racist language used by former players, coaches and fans since before 2010, though there was “insufficient evidence to conclude that Yorkshire County Cricket Club is institutionally racist.”

Holding has been open in the past regarding his own experiences of racism and said it “strips away your humanity,” but he wasn’t shocked to learn of the accusations against Yorkshire.

“I’m not surprised by what Azeem Rafiq has said,” he added.

“I have heard many stories like that for donkey’s years, since I was a young man.

“I’m surprised that he has actually now come out and made it public. Because a lot of people have suffered in silence.

“I’m glad he has done what he has done, he has been very brave to come out and talk about it. And I think it will make a huge change.”

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