Cricket: Azeem Rafiq reveals shocking details of racism in English cricket at Parliamentary hearing

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq has broken down in tears, as he told a British Parliamentary committee of "inhuman" treatment at the cricket club and described the sport in England as riddled with racism.

In more than an hour of testimony, Rafiq, 30, a former England U19 captain of Pakistani descent, catalogued a culture of widespread racism 

He and other players with Asian backgrounds were subjected to racial slurs, such as "You lot sit over there", and referred to as "Paki" and "elephant washers".

"I felt isolated, humiliated at times," he says during emotional testimony to the Parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) panel.

The scandal has shaken English sport, cost Yorkshire sponsors and the right to host England internationals, seen the club's top brass quit, and embroiled former England captain Michael Vaughan and current England skipper Joe Root.

Rafiq, a Muslim offspin bowler who played for Yorkshire, recounted having red wine poured down his throat as a 15-year-old and spoke of Asian players being singled out for mistakes, while they were fasting.

Rafiq broke down as he recounted how, the day he returned to the club in 2018 after his baby son was stillborn, director of cricket Martyn Moxon "ripped the shreds off me" in a meeting.

"Some of the club officials were inhuman," says Rafiq. "They weren't really bothered about the fact that I was at training one day and I get a phone call to say there's no heartbeat."

He also claims the racism he endured at Yorkshire was "without a shadow of doubt" replicated across the country and British Asian representation in the professional game had dropped 40 percent since 2010.

He told the hearing he would not want his son "anywhere near cricket" and that players from other counties had contacted him with similar experiences.

Former Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton, who resigned after Yorkshire's failure to discipline anyone over a club report into Rafiq's allegations, says the ECB should have carried out the investigation.

"It would have been far better had they done that," Hutton told the hearing. "This was a whistleblowing claim from 2007-18, against the executive of the club." 

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison says the first-class game is struggling to wake up to diversity issues.

"If we're not in an emergency, we're approaching one, he says."

Rafiq says there's a toxic atmosphere at Yorkshire under captain Gary Ballance, vice-captain Tim Bresnan, head coach Andrew Gale and Moxon, saying the constant racist abuse led him to suicidal thoughts.

Recalling a night out during a 2017 pre-season tour, Rafiq says: "We were in a place, and Gary Ballance walks over and goes, 'Why are you talking to him? You know he's a Paki'.

"This happened in front of teammates. It happened in front of coaching staff."

Rafiq says Ballance used the name 'Kevin' as a derogatory term to describe any player of colour and that the term was an "open secret within the England dressing room".

Earlier this month, Ballance - who played 23 tests for England - acknowledged he used racial slurs and deeply regretted some of the language he used when he was younger.

Last week, Yorkshire said Moxon was off work with a stress-related illness, while Gale had been suspended for an alleged anti-Semitic tweet he sent in 2010.

Rafiq says the extent of racism in English professional cricket is an open secret, but that players' lives are "made hell", if they spoke up.

Some of English cricket's biggest names have been dragged into the controversy.

Rafiq says ex-England captain Vaughan told him and two other players of Asian origin that there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it" before a match in 2009. Vaughan strongly denies the allegation.

Rafiq says current England captain Root, a Yorkshire player, was a good man, who "has never engaged in racist language", but the fact that Root cannot remember hearing racist language speaks volumes about the culture at the club.