‘The Asian community has always felt that Yorkshire is a racist club’ : Tabassum Bhatti


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    ‘The Asian community has always felt that Yorkshire is a racist club’ : Tabassum Bhatti

    In an interview with Saj for Isport, former academy player speaks Tabassum Bhatti speaks about how his dreams of being a star for Yorkshire CCC turned into a nightmare due to the treatment he received at the club.




    Tabassum Bhatti had dreams of a career at Yorkshire – a club he had admired from a young age. But he believes those dreams were shattered by a glass ceiling that he says Asians could not break.

    While the likes of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid have managed to carve out a niche for themselves in English cricket, the sad reality is that there are many other Asian cricketers who have made the same voyage with great hope and vigour, but ultimately with little success.

    Regarded by many as a wonderkid, Bradford-born Bhatti also started his cricketing journey with high hopes after he was spotted by scouts from Yorkshire. The sky seemed to be the limit for the all-rounder who could bat, bowl and keep wicket, but the reality turned out to be very different.

    And the disclosures of racist bias towards Asians as articulated by Azeem Rafiq and the reaction to it by the ECB ring some painful and familiar bells for Bhatti.

    “I started playing in the Bradford League at around nine years of age and began to make an impression in the Leagues at the age of 12 or 13,” he tells i. “I was then watched by a scout from Yorkshire, and they signed me on a scholarship when I was 14 in 1998. I was at the club for four years, I played in the Yorkshire school’s side alongside guys who went onto play for Yorkshire for a number of years including Andrew Gale, Joe Sayers, Richard Pyrah and Tim Bresnan – all of us came through the academy together.”

    However, the initial euphoria of being associated with a cricketing institution started to fade gradually for Bhatti, as he realised that despite his best endeavours, his career was going nowhere and the reasons for his lack of progress soon became apparent.

    “I played academy match, after academy match, after academy match,” he adds. “There wasn’t a lot of one-to-one coaching for me and there were no opportunities to go and play any second XI cricket. I have no idea how they expected my game to improve, and I always felt that I was treated very differently to the others. I felt this bias in favour of lads from the South Yorkshire area where many of the coaching staff were themselves from.



    “Their sentiments towards us Asians felt very different to what you find from the rest of Yorkshire. I found that other lads who weren’t Asian were given opportunities in the Yorkshire second XI. They were failing regularly, but were being given chances and eventually they got used to that standard of cricket and used to playing against better players. I never got a single chance to play any Yorkshire second XI matches and to show what I could do at that level.”

    The writing may have been on the wall for Bhatti as far as his prospects at Yorkshire were concerned, but what really shocked him was the apparent callous disregard for his dignity in the manner in which his release was handled by the club.

    “When I was released by Yorkshire, they didn’t have the decency to call me or speak to me to give me the reasons for releasing me; they just sent me a letter through the post. This was a club I had given blood, sweat and tears for. That just summed up Yorkshire for me and their attitude towards non-white players.

    “What Azeem Rafiq has disclosed about his experiences at Yorkshire are no surprise at all to me and aren’t a surprise to anyone from the Asian community. The disclosures by Azeem have been a long time coming and I respect him for what he is doing. However, what is a surprise is how Yorkshire and the ECB dealt with Azeem’s accusations for such a long time and their lack of action, which to me shows how little respect they have for one of their own.”

    The allegations of vile abuse that Asian cricketers have faced over the years in English cricket may be a difficult pill to swallow for many who look at these claims with a degree of scepticism, but Bhatti’s allegations of what he had to endure is something which, if true, is alarming and unforgivable.

    “Of course, there were incidents that I experienced when I was at Yorkshire,” Bhatti says. “I had a player urinate on my head from the hotel bedroom above, as I was on the phone leaning out of my room window. There were numerous racist comments said openly and on occasions in a sly way.

    “I also heard senior players talking in front me of me about how they had sex with a woman in a hotel room who was on her period, and all they could find in the room was a Muslim player’s prayer mat to clean it up, which they thought was funny. Those incidents are etched in my mind even to this day and always will be. I was told just to ignore it and that they would deal with it, but of course they never did.”

    While these allegations of mental abuse could well have been thwarted by a good measure of thick skin, Bhatti says there was also a good deal of the physical equivalent which would have tested the strength of character of many.

    “I was a wicketkeeper and during training sessions and pre-match warm-ups, my teammates would intentionally from close range throw the ball hard to hurt me. In fact, on one such occasion my hand was so bruised I had to drop out of a match shortly before it was about to start.”

    Bhatti, who is now 37 years old, may have been forgiven in thinking that his generation had seen the last of treatment that he says made his life at Yorkshire a living hell, but the disclosures by Rafiq seem to confirm his worst fears that this sort of bias has been around for generations.

    “Given what Azeem Rafiq has disclosed, it seems that even during his time things hadn’t changed at all. It always was a jobs-for-the-boys scenario and an environment to look after your mates and that still seems to be the case at Yorkshire. Some of the people that were at the club back then are still there now. The faces haven’t changed so how do you expect any positive changes to occur?”

    Yorkshire’s reputation for the mistreatment of Asian cricketers now seems to be an open secret, but what really disappoints Bhatti is the inability of those on the receiving end to speak-up against bias and what they endured.

    “It has always been felt in the Yorkshire Asian cricketing community that Yorkshire is a racist club and just to get a chance there you have to be a lot better than your peers and even then, they are reluctant to work with you,” he said. “What’s disappointing for me is that the Asian lads who have been at Yorkshire or are still there are not speaking up about these issues that I am sure they will have also encountered.

    “There are barriers in place that are stopping talented Asian cricketers from coming through the system at clubs like Yorkshire. There is discrimination at such clubs, there is racism, and up and down the country they don’t seem to want Asian cricketers to come through.”

    It would be easy in the backdrop of Rafiq’s treatment to single out Yorkshire for their attitudes towards their non-white players but Bhatti is concerned that this malaise is present from the national level to the grassroots and that it is having an effect on the future choices young Asians will make when it comes to playing the game they have grown up to love.

    “This is also still happening at grassroots level today as we speak around the country, not just in Yorkshire,” he said. “Clubs don’t want to sign a Pakistani overseas player because they don’t put money behind the bar.

    “People are rightly accusing the ECB of being negligent and turning a blind eye and I feel this is a watershed moment for English cricket. The animosity towards Asian cricketers goes right through cricket right down to the grassroots level. This has been happening for too long and it’s good that we are finally talking about it now and action needs to be taken.

    “With my experiences in mind, put it this way, I have two children, a six-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl, would I ever want them to be affiliated with Yorkshire County Cricket Club? Never, no chance.”


    Yorkshire promise to investigate Bhatti’s claims

    Lord Patel, the chair of Yorkshire CCC, said: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club should be a club for everyone in Yorkshire.

    “We need to listen to anyone who has experienced racism, discrimination and abuse at this cricket club, and I urge others to come forward to share their experiences.

    “We are aware that, since I spoke [on Tuesday], a number of allegations have been made from individuals about their experiences in the media. These need to be properly investigated.

    “I announced that an independent whistleblowing hotline will be set up as quickly as possible, as a safe space for people to come forward with disclosures. Once it is operational – and I have asked for this to happen by the end of this week – this will be the first step to a new and dedicated process to receive and to respond directly to all allegations and concerns.

    “We want anyone who may have suffered issues to come forward, and these will be considered carefully and with due diligence”.

    https://inews.co.uk/sport/cricket/az...bhatti-1292684
    Last edited by MenInG; 10th November 2021 at 14:22.


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  2. #2
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    A promising career - and dreams of becoming a top notch cricketer...

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    Even Imran Khan saw issues with Yorks!

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    Last edited by MenInG; 10th November 2021 at 21:35.


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  3. #3
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    Absolutely disgraceful treatment.

    This is a lad born and bred in Yorkshire - he was one of their own, but I guess he wasn't accepted as one of their own due to the colour of his skin.

    He kept all this quiet from his family for many years as he was too embarrassed about what had happened to him.



  4. #4
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    Just another mentally weak, flop Asian player who couldn’t make it because of his own shortcomings and will obviously play the victim card to stay relevant.

    Adil Rashid has come through the ranks of the “racist” Yorkshire. He is England’s top spinner in white ball cricket.

    When you have the talent and work hard and take ownership of your performances, racism will not stand in your way.

  5. #5
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    Martyn Moxon has been known to be toxic..

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  7. #6
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    Just another mentally weak, flop Asian player who couldn’t make it because of his own shortcomings and will obviously play the victim card to stay relevant.
    Just wondering if you ever saw him play?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamoon View Post
    Just another mentally weak, flop Asian player who couldn’t make it because of his own shortcomings and will obviously play the victim card to stay relevant.

    Adil Rashid has come through the ranks of the “racist” Yorkshire. He is England’s top spinner in white ball cricket.

    When you have the talent and work hard and take ownership of your performances, racism will not stand in your way.
    you sir are an absolute disgrace. this is not about whether tabassum was good enough or otherwise. There has been an institutional inquiry and even in azeem rafiq's case there was enough evidence to suggest that those of south asian background were discriminated against. and some of those folks are still with yorkshire to this day.

    I do not know how an employee's capabilities have anything to do with pointing out that a hostile work atmosphere exists and that discrimination is not right.
    Last edited by Saj; 11th November 2021 at 02:37.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Just wondering if you ever saw him play?
    he's of pakistani origin thats usually enough for mamoon to declare them to be 'useless' and 'weak'

  10. #9
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    While there is merit to the Yorkshire accusations and their needs to be accountability; this particular case seems a classic instance of jumping on the bandwagon.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamoon View Post
    Just another mentally weak, flop Asian player who couldn’t make it because of his own shortcomings and will obviously play the victim card to stay relevant.

    Adil Rashid has come through the ranks of the “racist” Yorkshire. He is England’s top spinner in white ball cricket.

    When you have the talent and work hard and take ownership of your performances, racism will not stand in your way.
    Disgraceful post. This guy lives in Pakistan and has no idea what he is talking about.
    Last edited by Saj; 11th November 2021 at 02:36.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Just wondering if you ever saw him play?
    I doubt it.. Just another one of his below the belt and derogatory comments against Pakistan and Pakistani players.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ahmad-GERMANFC View Post
    While there is merit to the Yorkshire accusations and their needs to be accountability; this particular case seems a classic instance of jumping on the bandwagon.
    What are your reasons for thinking that?



  14. #13
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    There is no doubt there is bias and maybe in some cases its based on race. I have been through the system with my son, and what is obvious is that its biased towards the private schools. An average private school kid is given a very long rope, where a state school kid is given short shrift. Ultimately, i felt he wasnt good enough to make it but My lad was better then both the white bowlers that were chosen over him. And its also interesting that one of the kids that now plays FC rated him very highly and was surprised at the treatment by the county coaches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamoon View Post
    Just another mentally weak, flop Asian player who couldn’t make it because of his own shortcomings and will obviously play the victim card to stay relevant.

    Adil Rashid has come through the ranks of the “racist” Yorkshire. He is England’s top spinner in white ball cricket.

    When you have the talent and work hard and take ownership of your performances, racism will not stand in your way.
    All the injustices against T Bhatti are deeply uncalled for and unfortunate.

    But one wouldnt be far fetched to attribute mental weakness to any man who is meek enough to stay put at the time despite this discrimination.

    But to come off after a gap of a decade ?

    In my school, if your good enough in the trade, something in you, propels you to take a stand, at the time, to take what is rightfully his.

    If the player is reading, and can answer this , im happy to take my words back

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamoon View Post
    Just another mentally weak, flop Asian player who couldn’t make it because of his own shortcomings and will obviously play the victim card to stay relevant.

    Adil Rashid has come through the ranks of the “racist” Yorkshire. He is England’s top spinner in white ball cricket.

    When you have the talent and work hard and take ownership of your performances, racism will not stand in your way.
    That's the equivalent of arguing that because Barrack Obama was president, there is no such thing as racism in America...

  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrongun View Post
    That's the equivalent of arguing that because Barrack Obama was president, there is no such thing as racism in America...
    Take your point.

    But with this analogy, you too, are inadvertently running the risk of equating the magnitudes of a historically wronged inequality of centuries to purported allegations of a handful, with possible gaps in his story.
    The magnitudes and origins of both forms of discrimination are different entirely.

  18. #17
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    But one wouldnt be far fetched to attribute mental weakness to any man who is meek enough to stay put at the time despite this discrimination.
    He didn't stay put.

    He spoke to those in authority, they said they would deal with and did nothing. Also at times they said that he needed to toughen up and threw it back at him.



  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    He didn't stay put.

    He spoke to those in authority, they said they would deal with and did nothing. Also at times they said that he needed to toughen up and threw it back at him.
    There is a clear pattern of certain posters attacking the accuser, even before knowing the full facts.

    It tells you a lot about the kind of people they are... but what is even worse is that when you correct them they double down on it.

  20. #19
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    “I had a player urinate on my head from the hotel bedroom above, as I was on the phone leaning out of my room window."
    “I also heard senior players talking in front me of me about how they had sex with a woman in a hotel room who was on her period, and all they could find in the room was a Muslim player’s prayer mat to clean it up, which they thought was funny. Those incidents are etched in my mind even to this day and always will be. I was told just to ignore it and that they would deal with it, but of course they never did.”
    “I was a wicketkeeper and during training sessions and pre-match warm-ups, my teammates would intentionally from close range throw the ball hard to hurt me. In fact, on one such occasion my hand was so bruised I had to drop out of a match shortly before it was about to start.”
    How could a cricket club's players be so hateful? Surely there has to be something deeper to all this? "Racism" is a blanket term but we need to go into the specifics.


    Have some Sehwag in your life.

  21. #20
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    Great work Saj.

    There are so many talented Asian cricketers in Yorkshire, yet hardly any make the first class team.

    I suspect this will now change very quickly.


    Lions don't lose sleep over the opinions of Sheep


  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    He didn't stay put.

    He spoke to those in authority, they said they would deal with and did nothing. Also at times they said that he needed to toughen up and threw it back at him.
    So they sent him a letter informing him his scholarship ended & his contract is out in the 90s, and he never went back to question them then, is it ? Did he just leave the game after ? Would one give blood sweat & tears , and not ask for an explanation later ….

    Just asking, Saj, i already said I sympathise.

    But on what grounds can we make a case for this discrimination, and who knows if the parties to whom he complained are even alive or in business now.
    Last edited by drubwrubnat; 18th November 2021 at 00:23.

  23. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKhanWC View Post

    There are so many talented Asian cricketers in Yorkshire, yet hardly any make the first class team.
    County cricket is not something that interests me, but how do Yorkshire compare to to other counties?

    There are substantial Asian populations in Leicestershire, Lancashire and Warwickshire for example...
    Last edited by TAK; 18th November 2021 at 00:52.

  24. #23
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    Tabussam's is right about the perception of Yorkshire as a racist club...

    Lived in Leeds all my life, never taken the slightest interest in Yorkishire, don't know a single Pak origin person of my generation that has ever been to watch them play...compare and contrast to when Pakistan play at Headingley, there has been a huge Pakistani presence dating back to the 1974 tour.

  25. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TAK View Post
    County cricket is not something that interests me, but how do Yorkshire compare to to other counties?

    There are substantial Asian populations in Leicestershire, Lancashire and Warwickshire for example...
    I think its an issue all over the country.

    I used to play for the local town club at 13 years old. Being a cricketer never interested me, I was just loved playing all sports. Around the area there were many young Asian players with huge talent. I recall we had left arm quicks, leggies, offies, batsmen with a great touch etc. Very few made it to any higher level.

    One of the main reasons is those who make it are from the posh private schools. Our school team struggled to beat these guys, they had the best equipment, the best coaching etc.

    Cricket is still a posh mans sport in the UK. IT will take time before fair representation is seen.


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  26. #25
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    It's not just cricket

    I believe its in football as well asian kids can't progress due to prejudice and In grained stereotyping that asians can't play football or physical sports and can only play cricket .

  27. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by IMMY69 View Post
    There is a clear pattern of certain posters attacking the accuser, even before knowing the full facts.

    It tells you a lot about the kind of people they are... but what is even worse is that when you correct them they double down on it.
    Absolutely. If they were on the receiving end, they'd know about it and would then have some sympathies.



  28. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKhanWC View Post
    Great work Saj.

    There are so many talented Asian cricketers in Yorkshire, yet hardly any make the first class team.

    I suspect this will now change very quickly.
    The sad thing is that cricket loses out. Asian cricketers then end up playing in Asian teams and in Asian leagues and they don't get the exposure that they should.



  29. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by TAK View Post
    Tabussam's is right about the perception of Yorkshire as a racist club...

    Lived in Leeds all my life, never taken the slightest interest in Yorkishire, don't know a single Pak origin person of my generation that has ever been to watch them play...compare and contrast to when Pakistan play at Headingley, there has been a huge Pakistani presence dating back to the 1974 tour.
    I thought Adil Rashid would be the catalyst for change at Yorkshire, but that never happened. I thought that more Asian kids would want to play for the County, get involved at the club, but that failed to occur. The perception of Asians in Yorkshire is that it's a club that they don't want to be associated with - that has to change.



  30. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    I thought Adil Rashid would be the catalyst for change at Yorkshire, but that never happened. I thought that more Asian kids would want to play for the County, get involved at the club, but that failed to occur. The perception of Asians in Yorkshire is that it's a club that they don't want to be associated with - that has to change.
    There was a bit of a buzz when Younis Khan was taken on, I'm pretty sure that Pakistani businessmen were contributing towards his wages, but Yorkshire never tapped into it...

  31. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    The sad thing is that cricket loses out. Asian cricketers then end up playing in Asian teams and in Asian leagues and they don't get the exposure that they should.
    It was sad to hear Azeem saying he wouldn't want his son to take up cricket. I hope more parents now have confidence to send their kids to counties or clubs.

    England are shooting themselves in the foot, losing so much talent.


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  32. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKhanWC View Post
    It was sad to hear Azeem saying he wouldn't want his son to take up cricket. I hope more parents now have confidence to send their kids to counties or clubs.

    England are shooting themselves in the foot, losing so much talent.
    “With my experiences in mind, put it this way, I have two children, a six-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl, would I ever want them to be affiliated with Yorkshire County Cricket Club? Never, no chance.”
    Tabassum Bhatti



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