Headingley, June 24 (IANS) Interim chair of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Lord Kamlesh Patel has revealed that had international cricket not returned to the club, there was a realistic possibility of it going bankrupt post the allegations of racial harassment and bullying by Pakistani-origin cricketer Azeem Rafiq and others.
Yorkshire has been through a tumultuous period in the aftermath of the Azeem Rafiq episode, and Patel, who was appointed interim chair of the club in November, made sweeping changes to the club, replacing almost the entire management, coaching and support staff.
Following implementation of the changes suggested by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), international cricket finally returned to Headingley with the venue currently hosting the third and final Test between England and New Zealand.
And Patel said that the club was staring at all the sponsors deserting it in the wake of the revelations by Azeem Rafiq.
“If Test matches or international matches didn’t come back here we were going to go bankrupt. We literally were,” said Patel on BBC’s Test Match Special on Thursday, the opening day of the game between England and New Zealand.
“What were you going to do: lay off all of the staff, all of the players and try and come back in a couple of years with all of your sponsors gone? That wasn’t realistic. Being totally honest, going back to November this seemed a very distant opportunity. It seemed a bit of a pipe dream. When I first came into the job I was determined to make it happen. I thought it would run a lot smoother than it did. It was far, far tougher,” said Patel.
The ECB had stripped Yorkshire of the right to host international matches and the club had to vote on a new set of governance rules, which ultimately led the England board not to take the extreme step of banning the county side.
“Without a shadow of a doubt (the ECB were serious about stripping Yorkshire of international cricket). They are a responsible governing body. Yorkshire unfortunately brought the game of cricket into disrepute. The ECB were doing their job and had to do their job properly. If you had seen all the evidence I have seen, you would put your mortgage on us not getting international cricket back.
“Regulators have to do their job. If something is wrong, they have to follow due process. Yes, it is tough. We had international games removed from us. We provided the evidence to say we are fit for purpose as a club. The other charges stem back from 2004. That is a long time and lots of things have happened.
“I am hoping the line will be drawn after we have given our evidence, we are suitably sanctioned and we move forward. There is going to be a lot of naval-gazing to look across the whole cricket community,” added Patel.