England captain Eoin Morgan on Friday backed his cricket board for taking stringent action against Yorkshire county and its batter Gary Ballance in the Azeem Rafiq racial allegations case, saying sensitive matters like these should be met “head on”. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has temporarily banned Yorkshire from hosting international matches for failing to act on former player Rafiq’s racial abuse charges. Yorkshire player Gary Ballance, who has also represented England, was barred from national selection for an indefinite period after he admitted to having abused Rafiq “racially”.
“Yeah, to be honest, I think if they’re matters of an extreme or serious nature like these are, they need to be met head on, and for us as a team, that’s exactly what we want to see,” Morgan said when asked about ECB’s actions.
“Obviously the investigation is ongoing and live at the moment, so only time will tell what happens, but I think the actions by the board have demonstrated how seriously the ECB are taking how this has been handled,” he said at the pre-match press conference ahead of England’s T20 World Cup Super 12 match against South Africa.
“Yes, we want to see this brought in a great light, but equally if there is an issue as serious as this, we want it dealt with, as well.” He said ECB’s actions to Yorkshire indicated how serious the Board is about dealing with issues like racism.
“Those actions speak louder than words. They have been taking it in a serious manner. We firmly believe that there is no place in our sport for any type of discrimination. For the last two to three years, our culture has been built around inclusivity and diversity. It’s actually been quite a strong part of our game.
“From our point of view as a team, we can only do so much in role modelling what we believe is right, because yes, we talk about it, but equally we want to do things that make a difference.
“I believe that we’ve made huge strides forward as a group in doing that in various parts of our game, and we’ve found things that are not only pushing things forward, taking the cart forward, but also feel very authentic to individuals and where they’ve come from and the journeys that they’ve been on.”
Morgan felt the decision to ban Ballance — though he was not likely to be selected for the national team in near future — was on the lines of what happened to England fast bowler Ollie Robinson, who was in June suspended from international cricket by the ECB for his racist and sexist tweets dating almost a decade back.
“Here I think the decision that was taken at the start of last summer in a similar instance with Ollie Robinson is consistent with the board’s decision with Gary Ballance,” he said.
He did not give a straightforward answer when asked if he would support a similar action as has been taken by the ECB when other players nearer to his group did the same thing or allegedly did the same thing.
“I haven’t thought deeply about it. Obviously the actions that the players have taken are ones that they have said they’ve done, so obviously there’s cloudy water there if there are allegations as opposed to things that have actually happened.”
Asked if spinner Adil Rashid, who grew up at Yorkshire, would be affected by the developments back home, Morgan replied in the negative.
“There’s no indication at the moment that anything out of the ordinary is happening. Obviously being away in a different country detaches you slightly from things as opposed to being at home.
“But certainly he (Rashid) is a guy that has obviously very close with Azeem Rafiq having grown up at Yorkshire, but he’s travelling okay at the moment.”
Morgan said responsibility within the change room falls on every player and as a team they can only do something which the group feels is “authentic”.
“It has to feel authentic to the group because if something happens within the group and people don’t feel like they have a share in it, they won’t act on it. “Within our group at the moment, I feel confident enough that guys would act individually and they wouldn’t respond or feel like one of the senior players that a coach has to step in.”
“There’s only so much that we can do as a team. I think having had a lot of chats with the team, I’ve been a part of the significant change that we feel will lead to something that will be bigger than any of our careers or any trophies that we win.”
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