The statement by the senior captain, Azeem Rafiq, which contributed to the resignation of the England coach Mark Robinson yesterday, caught the cricket world by surprise because it was delivered as something of a bombshell. Rafiq’s first-hand account of what happened last week before the four-day Test against Pakistan in Birmingham became the biggest diplomatic embarrassment for England since the 1987 cricket World Cup which saw captain Tony Greig beaten by the team director, Duncan Fletcher, over the awarding of a match, an incident which led to the severing of England’s long-standing ties with apartheid South Africa.
Rafiq said in his statement that he was subjected to racist abuse throughout the match and, despite the fact that he earlier accused England of dirty tactics, made no effort to play aggressive cricket. On the first morning, he said, he was called a “monkey” and the following day when he was dismissed by James Anderson and told “b*******, f***ing c***, monkey” by an Englishman, he felt he had a case to answer. His account is far from the only revelation to surface this week.
In a documentary released in Britain on Monday and in Ireland on Monday, Alex Tudor, the first black player to feature for England’s team, revealed that, during the tour, players were singled out for verbal abuse by the same batsmen who were complaining about pitches favouring the home team. In the same documentary, Liam Plunkett said he had been called a c*** and some were banned from going to the loo in one session for 12 minutes after their names were called. “It was definitely quite bad in places,” Plunkett said. “It makes you feel like a black child who is seen as the outsider because they’re walking around the pitch, thinking, ‘Who are these people?’”