London: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday lifted the suspension on Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) hosting international and major cricket matches at Headingley following a review of progress made against several criteria to tackle racism at the club.
The club was banned from hosting any international games in November over their handling of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.
Rafiq, a player of Pakistani descent, alleged last year that he was a victim of institutional racism at the club. The explosive allegations led to a number of resignations at Yorkshire CCC, with Kamlesh Patel taking over from Roger Hutton as chairman.
“The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has lifted the suspension on Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) hosting international and major cricket matches at Headingley. The decision follows a rigorous review of progress made against several criteria set out in November 2021 to tackle racism at the club,” the governing body said in a statement.
The ECB also noted that Yorkshire must still “resolve issues relating to rules changes and decisions at the club which have been subject to procedural flaws”, along with “amendments to club rules relating to the appointment and operation of the Board”.
Headingley will now host England’s third Test against New Zealand in June this year as well as the One-Day International with South Africa in July.
Yorkshire chairman Lord Patel said the decision has “validated and reignited” the “drive for positive progress” at the club.
“I welcome this decision and thank the Board of the ECB for supporting the return of international matches at Headingley once again. We have worked night and day to bring about tangible change at Yorkshire, and the removal of the sanctions has validated and reignited our drive for positive progress,” said Patel.
“I would like to thank the ECB for its support, and its robust challenge throughout the process. It has been a difficult period for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and there remains a lot of work to be done, but the level of scrutiny has pushed us towards implementing action which will not only transform this club but can lead the way forward for the sport as a whole,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rafiq welcomed the decision, saying the club had made great progress under the leadership of Patel.
“This is the correct decision by the ECB — under Lord Patel, the club has shown a real willingness to change & has already come a long way. His leadership has earned the club another chance but the reforms must continue and we must see real change,” he wrote on Twitter