Brisbane: England’s Test captain Joe Root on Monday reiterated he did not witness racism at Yorkshire but said he is in touch with Azeem Rafiq since his former teammate testified at a recent parliamentary hearing about the discrimination that he had faced at the club. Addressing the media here, Root said he hoped to have a discussion with Rafiq after the Ashes series against Australia, which starts next month, on the former Yorkshire player’s allegations of institutional racism at the club.
During the hearing, Rafiq has told MPs he felt “isolated, humiliated at times” due to the racism he suffered and the “constant uses of the word p***'” during his time at Yorkshire. Root said he has reached out to Rafiq since he spoke through tears in Parliament on November 16.
“We have exchanged a couple of messages since, quite recently actually, and hopefully when we finish this tour we will get the opportunity to sit down and talk about this whole situation. About how we can move the game forward,” Root said. However, at the same time, Root stood by his earlier claim that he had never witnessed any racist behaviour towards Rafiq. “No, I stand by what I said,” he said. “I don’t recall those incidences. If they are an oversight on my part then that’s an area we all have to learn from, and I have to learn from.” The prolific scorer added, “I think about things that have happened since then. There have been things that have happened on a cricket field where I feel like I have stepped in and called things out. “I think that comes from growth and learning, understanding and education. There is still further education that I need to undergo and develop myself further. Within our game, I think everyone does.
“There is so much work that has to be done – so much energy has to be thrown into this and there has to be a real drive to make a real difference.” The England captain also called out West Indies’ Shannon Gabriel for alleged use of homophobic language in 2019.