Darren Gough says Yorkshire ‘want to be inclusive’ after welcoming changes required by ECB | Cricket News


Darren Gough believes Yorkshire has made ‘great strides’ since he became managing director

Darren Gough says Yorkshire will be “inclusive for everyone” after welcoming changes required by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) following racism allegations by Azeem Rafiq.

Former Yorkshire captain Gough was appointed as managing director of cricket in January on an interim basis until the end of 2022, and revealed how Rafiq’s testimony has been a wake-up call.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club members have overwhelmingly voted in favor of structural changes required by the ECB that will allow international fixtures to be staged at Headingley.

Yorkshire's suspension from staging international Test cricket has been lifted by the ECB, subject to conditions regarding the running of the club

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Yorkshire’s suspension from staging international Test cricket has been lifted by the ECB, subject to conditions regarding the running of the club

Yorkshire’s suspension from staging international Test cricket has been lifted by the ECB, subject to conditions regarding the running of the club

“It’s been hard, but enjoyable,” Gough said of his three months in the role.

“I think coming in and seeing the club on its knees really, and not with a great reputation, my job was to come in and purely concentrate on getting some morale back to the cricket side of things.

“Because the players, as you can imagine, were probably quite low.

“And I can remember that first conversation with them at the indoor nets, but the way they have worked for me over the last three months has been outstanding in difficult circumstances, with interim coaches.

“I think it’s sport in general, and the world in general that needs to improve. Not just cricket.

“I think it was a wake-up call with Azeem’s brave testimony.

“The club admitted it made huge mistakes, and now it’s a case that I’ve come in and we’re trying to make Yorkshire a club that people can be proud of.

“That people all around the world from all sports can look at us and say: ‘That’s how a cricket a club and an organization should be run’.

“It’s going to be hard work. We might have hiccups along the way, people might make mistakes, but it’s about working together and making Yorkshire an inclusive place for all.

“It’s going to take a long time to prove that we’re going in the right direction. But already in three months I think the club’s made huge strides.”

Lord Patel was appointed as chairman in November in view of leading the enforcement of wholescale change, and has since dismissed 16 members of the county’s backroom staff including former director of cricket Martyn Moxon and first-team coach Andrew Gale.

“You can’t forget what’s happened, and we shouldn’t forget what’s happened,” Gough added.

“But people have admitted their mistakes, and we want to make it a club people can be proud of.

“This team, from what I’ve seen so far, has got the right mentality, and we’ve got some great individuals who can help take this club forward.

Ebony Rainford-Brent says she's 'confident' that within five years the game of cricket will have made significant progress on diversity

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Ebony Rainford-Brent says she’s ‘confident’ that within five years the game of cricket will have made significant progress on diversity

Ebony Rainford-Brent says she’s ‘confident’ that within five years the game of cricket will have made significant progress on diversity

“I was delighted to get Otis [Gibson] in as head coach, who has made a big difference.

“I started in 1989, and obviously the world was a bit of a different place. From 1994 until 2004, I was very rarely here because I was always with England.

“But dressing rooms, I’ve always found and I’ve said this before, are the best places in the world. But also the most brutal places in the world.

“In everything: people having nicknames, people being called out. And people in offices all up and down the country now would probably have said stuff they wouldn’t say in this day and age.

“And rightly so. It was never right, but the key word here is education. We’ve all been educated as we’ve got older and move on, and realized it’s not acceptable.

“From this moment on, we’d like to believe that we can all move in the same direction – as players, coaches, members, an organization – and make it a better place.

“We want everybody to be able to come here, and whether it be game-day experience, playing in our pathway, or playing at professional level, we want to make it inclusive for everyone.”

Ballance taking time out of game due to mental health

In November, Yorkshire and former England batsman Gary Ballance admitted using a racial slur towards Rafiq.

Ballance released a statement in which he accepted he was responsible for some of the offensive and derogatory terms that Rafiq revealed he was subjected to during his time at Headingley.

Gary Ballance issued a lengthy statement expressing regret for using a racial slur against ex-Yorkshire teammate Azeem Rafiq

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Gary Ballance issued a lengthy statement expressing regret for using a racial slur against ex-Yorkshire teammate Azeem Rafiq

Gary Ballance issued a lengthy statement expressing regret for using a racial slur against ex-Yorkshire teammate Azeem Rafiq

The 31-year-old referenced his “incredibly close relationship” with Rafiq during their time together at the club, saying both men “said things privately to each other which were not acceptable” but made it clear he had remorse for his part in those exchanges.

Gough confirmed that Ballance will remain part of the playing squad at Yorkshire, but is currently taking time out of the game for his mental health.

“The club made that decision again with Gary. But he is going to be part of our playing staff.

“Unfortunately for Gary, he’s having time out of the game at the moment.

“I think everybody knows that with his mental health he wants some time out of the game, and as managing director of cricket I’d just like some respect for Gary during this period.

“It’s very difficult for him, and we’re going to support him in every way we possibly can.

“And when he’s right to come back, he can come back and that’s down to him.

“He’s under no pressure from Yorkshire, we will support him in every way we can to get him back playing professional cricket.”

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