Police search for man who defecated in cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s garden in suspected race-hate attack

South Yorkshire Police released an image of a man they wish to identify  (ES Composite)
South Yorkshire Police released an image of a man they wish to identify (ES Composite)

Police are searching for a man who allegedly defecated in former cricketer Azeem Rafiq’s garden in what is believed to be a racially-motivated attack.

Rafiq, 31, spoke about the hate crime to MPs earlier this month as he detailed shocking “abuse, threats and attacks” aimed at him and his family in the year since his harrowing testimony on racism in the game.

While giving evidence to a select committee in Parliament, the ex-Yorkshire Country Cricket Club bowler who played for England said: “Recently, at my family house there was a bloke in broad daylight who walked in and out of our garden on the phone before defecating. It looked all very planned.”

On Thursday South Yorkshire Police confirmed its Barnsley team were investigating the hate crime and released a photo of a man they wish to identify.

“At 6.18pm on October 5, it’s reported that a man defecated in the front garden of an address on Gawber Road, Barnsley,” police said in a statement.

“It is believed that the incident, which is classed as a public order offence, is racially motivated.

“We are looking to speak to this man as we believe he could help us progress our enquiries.”

Rafiq has recently moved his immediate family to Pakistan and has at times required round-the-clock security protection since he spoke out about the abuse he suffered while playing cricket for Yorkshire in two spells between 2008 and 2018.

He told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee that cricket is still “in denial” over the issue of racism, 13 months after his revelations were made public.

“We had another incident where a man was circling late at night with what looked like a chain in his hand. If I look at 13 months on from pouring my heart out, all that’s changed is me and my family being driven out of the country.”

A number of individuals, as well as Yorkshire County Cricket Club, were charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in relation to Rafiq’s allegations in June.

However the case is yet to be heard, largely owing to a dispute over whether proceedings will be allowed to play out in public.

A commission set up by the ECB to investigate racism and other forms of discrimination in cricket received more than 2,000 responses in two weeks.

The spinner, who moved to England from Pakistan in 2001, played for Yorkshire between 2008 and 2014 and 2016 and 2018, making his senior debut at the age of 17.

Anyone with information can contact police either online or by calling 101. The incident number to quote is 726 of 12 October 2022. You can submit information online here.