Yorkshire CCC and ECB are 'lacking in backbone' and 'afraid to take right action', ex-cricketer Michael Holding says

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Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the England and Wales Cricket Board are "lacking in backbone" and are "afraid to take the right action" in relation to dealing with racism, a former West Indies cricketer has said.

Ex-fast bowler Michael Holding, who has spoken openly about being a victim of racism himself in the past, told Sky News that the board should have suspended Yorkshire CCC "immediately" while its own investigation into the allegations at the club takes place.

Yorkshire and the wider sport are mired in allegations of racism and how such complaints are handled.

It comes after former Yorkshire spin-bowler Azeem Rafiq was found to have been a victim of "racial harassment and bullying" while playing for the team - but the club decided no player, employee or executive should face action.

On Thursday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) suspended the club from hosting international or major matches after the "wholly unacceptable" handling of racial harassment claims.

However, Mr Holding believes the action doesn't go far enough and said: "The ECB have put out a statement, but if you read that statement carefully you will see they have left themselves some wiggle room."

He continued: "The ECB could come out next week, or in a couple of weeks time, or a couple of months time and say 'yes, we are satisfied Yorkshire has done what is necessary, they are ready' - and they will get a test match next summer.

"That is not a strong statement, that is not strong action."

Mr Holding, who played for Canterbury, Derbyshire and Lancashire during his club career, also said he believes the ECB should investigate the racism allegations themselves and then set a more solid suspension.

He continued: "They have done nothing, they need to take one step further and suspend them immediately, and then at their end of their investigation they can say 'OK, that one year that you got, that is your punishment'.

"Or, 'here's another year, or another two years for what we have found out'. They have done nothing.

"If there are no repercussions for bad actions nothing changes."

Mr Holding also said that Yorkshire are not the only UK club to have had a problem with racism and said "a lot of non-white cricketers" could tell us about "the problems they have had".

Asked if recent events suggest Yorkshire and the ECB are unable to deal with allegations of racism, Mr Holding said: "I wouldn't say they are lacking in ability, I would say they are lacking in gumption. I don't want to use a word that wouldn't be acceptable on television.

"They are lacking in backbone, they don't want to take strong action, they are weak and I think that is their problem.

"They investigated, they got their results, but then they did not go on to take action.

"I would say they are lacking in testosterone perhaps."

Mr Holding also expressed his disbelief at how Yorkshire found Rafiq's claims to be genuine but decided no one should be punished.

"I don't see how you can come out after an investigation and say, yes, a lot of the claims that the young man made, we found them to be true, but, we're not going to do anything, we're not going to take any action against anyone that was guilty of what the young man said... I don't quite understand that," he said.

Rafiq, 30, played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club in two spells between 2008 and 2018 and accused the club of "institutional racism" more than a year ago.

An internal report found that Rafiq had been the victim of "racial harassment and bullying" at the club, but it has since emerged that the panel determined repeated use of the word "P***" against the spinner was delivered "in the spirit of friendly banter".

Former chairman Roger Hutton, who was not at the club at the time the incidents took place, has resigned in the wake of the report.

Hanif Malik OBE and Stephen Willis have also stepped down from the board.

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