Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq fought back tears as he told British lawmakers on Tuesday that he believed he lost his career due to racism but hoped in a few years time there would be change to reflect upon.

Rafiq called out the racism within English cricket was institutional, recalling the “humiliating treatment” he received at the club.

An independent report found the Pakistan-born player was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” while Rafiq himself said he had been driven to thoughts of suicide over the way he was treated.

The English county had said they would take no disciplinary action against any staff – a decision that was met with disbelief in many quarters and prompted the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee to hold a hearing.

“I felt, isolated, humiliated at times,” Rafiq, who had two periods at the English county club, told lawmakers.

“Pretty early on, me and other people from an Asian background... there were comments such as ‘you’ll sit over there near the toilets’, ‘elephant-washers’.

Later on Rafiq said he believed he lost his career to racism when asked if that was the case.

“Do I believe I lost my career to racism? Yes, I do. Horrible. But maybe what was written for me was this. I am a massive believer everything happens for a reason. Hopefully in five years, we are going to see a big change and I’ll look back at this something as far bigger than the runs and wickets I got.”

“The word Paki was used constantly. And there just seemed to be an acceptance in the institution from the leaders and no one ever stamped it out.”

Rafiq added: “All I wanted to do is play cricket and play for England and live my dream and live my family’s dream. In my first spell, I don’t really think I quite realised what it was. I think I was in denial.”

Prior to Tuesday’s hearing, the fallout for Yorkshire – one of England’s most successful and historic clubs – had been swift and devastating.

Sponsors have pulled out and the club has been suspended from hosting lucrative international matches.

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur have both resigned, with head coach Andrew Gale suspended for using a racial slur.

Subsequent allegations of racism have been made by other players, setting in motion additional investigations at Yorkshire and other clubs as the scandal spreads across English cricket.

‘Pinned down’

Rafiq, who is a Muslim, also recalled on Tuesday the experience of being forced to drink alcohol at the age of 15 as a club player in Yorkshire.

“I got pinned down at my local cricket club and had red wine poured down my throat, literally down my throat,” he said.

Asked whether racism was institutional in cricket, Rafiq replied “Yes”, saying governing bodies such as the England and Wales Cricket Board had to take responsibility.

On Monday, current England spinner Adil Rashid joined ex-Pakistan Test player Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in alleging that former England Test captain Michael Vaughan had said in front of a group of Yorkshire players of Asian ethnicity in 2009: “Too many of you lot, we need to do something about it.”

Vaughan has “categorically” denied making the comment.

The new Yorkshire chairman Kamlesh Patel welcomed Rashid’s “courage in speaking up” and said he would be listening to the DCMS committee hearing with great interest.

Asked about Vaughan, Rafiq said: “Michael might not remember it... three of us, Adil, myself and Rana remember it.

“He clearly had a snippet of my statement. He used his platform at the Daily Telegraph to tell everyone he hadn’t said these things. To go on and put a snippet of my statement out and talk about other things, I thought was completely wrong.”

Rafiq also called Joe Root a good man but wished he had spoken out more.

“Rooty is a good man,” Rafiq said during the hearing. “He has never engaged in racist language. I found it hurtful because Rooty was Gary Ballance’s housemate. Maybe he didn’t remember it, but it just shows the institution that a good man like him cannot remember those things.”

Among other things, Rafiq also said he would not want his child anywhere cricket in England and said his family has had to go through a tough time as he stood up, ‘bravely or stupidly’, against an institution of Yorkshire’s standing.

Rafiq, whose wife gave birth to a stillborn child in 2018, added that his two young children “have not had a dad really because all I’ve been worried about is Yorkshire going after me… I just hope that today provides some kind of closure.”

And Rafiq warned that racial prejudice within English cricket was not solely an issue at Yorkshire, saying it was replicated “up and down the country”.

“I’ve had messages from people who have played at Leicestershire, a guy who played at Middlesex, messages from people who played at Nottinghamshire,” he said.

He labelled diversity initiatives by the England and Wales Cricket Board as examples of “box-ticking” and “tokenism”.

The fallout for Yorkshire – one of England’s most successful and historic clubs – over the scandal has been swift and devastating.

Sponsors have pulled out and the club has been suspended from hosting lucrative international matches.

With AFP and PTI inputs

You can watch the hearing here.