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Rana Naved accuses Yorkshire of racial abuse

Former Pakistan pacer represented the county club in 2008 and 2009

PHOTO: Reuters

Former Pakistan cricketer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan has backed former player Azeem Rafiq’s claims about racism at English county Yorkshire.

The club had been accused of “institutional racism” by Rafiq, who said his experiences at the English county club left him close to suicide. The 29-year-old former England youth captain quit cricket after leaving Yorkshire in 2018.

Rana threw weight behind Rafiq’s claims by stating that he faced “systematic taunting” during his time, 2008 and 2009, with the club.

"I fully support what Azeem said and this has been the case with me as well," Rana told ESPNcricinfo. "I never spoke about it because, as foreigners, we were temporary and somehow I managed to accept the way it is. So I just focussed on playing cricket. I never wanted to jeopardise my contracts.”

"There was systematic taunting and it's tough to do much about it. To us as overseas players from Asia, when you are not able to perform, the home crowd which should be supporting us, instead they started hooting and would taunt us with racist slurs like 'Paki',” he added.

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The former Pakistan pacer also opened up on the change in club’s attitude, towards him, if he was not able to perform in accordance with expectations.

"If you are performing then you get all the space but, in case I am not taking wickets, the attitude suddenly started to change. They started to give us a tough time, giving me a smaller hotel room and there used to be a clear case of discrimination. They would do some strange things to annoy us and make you feel lesser. It wasn't abusive but their attitude wasn't friendly towards Asians,” he said.

"At time I used to feel bad, but I decided to ignore it because I knew I was not going to live there permanently. But I know what Azeem went through. He did share his frustration in my playing days. The way he was released by the club wasn't ideal and says a lot about them, but I had been advising him to stay strong and take it as a challenge," he further stated.

Although, Rana, who had also represented Sussex and Derbyshire, clarified that he only faced this issue at Yorkshire.

"This only happens in Yorkshire," he said. "I played several years for Sussex and they were tremendous; they treated me like their own family. Those two years were absolutely great. Even my first year in Yorkshire was okay but the trouble started in the second year.”

Naved played nine Tests, 74 One-day Internationals (ODIs) and four Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) for Pakistan, claiming 18, 110 and five wickets respectively.