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England v New Zealand: Third Test will be played out against a backdrop of bile at Headingley

PAUL NEWMAN: England’s third Test against New Zealand will be played against a backdrop of bile at Headingley…Yorkshire has taken one wrong turn after another since Azeem Rafiq’s allegations and there is no end in sight to the unrest

  • Yorkshire promised drastic reforms after Azeem Rafiq’s racism scandal
  • Really it’s hard to imagine what else Yorkshire could have done to screw it up
  • They tried to sweep Rafiq’s claims under the rug and hoped they would disappear
  • Robin Smith and Lord Patel haven’t covered themselves in glory since then

So this third test was essentially what it was all about. The game between England and New Zealand that Yorkshire desperately wanted to keep up for fear of financial ruin when their international status was stripped in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

Yorkshire kept Thursday’s game – and the one-day international against South Africa next month – when they promised drastic reforms, and even Rafiq didn’t want them to lose the matches and jeopardize the future of the game in England’s biggest cricketing district. bring.

But at what cost? For this test will be played against the backdrop of the biggest scandal in even Yorkshire’s troubled history, with the troubled county seemingly taking one wrong turn after another in their desperate attempt to set things right.

Yorkshire retained England-New Zealand test after promising drastic reforms

Yorkshire retained England-New Zealand test after promising drastic reforms

But they have completely mishandled the affair that started with the accusations of Azeem Rafiq

But they have completely mishandled the affair that started with the accusations of Azeem Rafiq

Really, it’s hard to imagine what else Yorkshire could have done to screw up this whole sad affair. If you’d asked them to make as many bad decisions as possible with the goal of causing maximum chaos, they couldn’t have done better.

There was complete mishandling of Rafiq’s allegations from when they were made public last year, when Yorkshire was just trying to sweep the whole thing under the rug and hoped it would go away.

When it became clear they couldn’t, there was the sad sight of former Speaker Robin Smith going out of his way to cover his own back in front of MPs as cricket was dragged into parliament before trying his successor, Lord Patel. to undermine.

There was the sad sight of former chairman Robin Smith (center) going out of his way to cover his own back

There was the sad sight of former chairman Robin Smith (center) going out of his way to cover his own back

Not that Lord Kamlesh Patel has covered himself in glory since he took charge

Not that Lord Kamlesh Patel has covered himself in glory since he took charge

Nor that Patel has covered himself with glory. The drastic decision to fire 16 staff members who signed a letter pleading with them to take a stronger stance against Rafiq’s allegations of institutionalized racism risks losing Yorkshire millions in compensation.

Now the club and seven people, including former England captain Michael Vaughan and current player Gary Ballance, whose future in the game is uncertain due to long-term mental health problems, are facing charges from the ECB for discrediting the game.

And the long-feared exodus of players, despite the efforts of two of the good guys in interim director Darren Gough and coach Ottis Gibson, may have started with the departure of David Willey to Northants and Tom Kohler-Cadmore to Somerset.

Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan is being sued by the ECB for discrediting the match

Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan is being sued by the ECB for discrediting the match

You’d think, with a background like that, Yorkshire would have launched a major public relations attack prior to this game. To show that they are really changing and that they are worthy of protecting the heritage of this amazing old province and land.

Not a little. Not yet anyway. All was quiet in Headingley on Tuesday as the two teams went through their training. Not a word from a rotating communications staff and no sign of Lord Patel making a rare appearance to convince us he knows what he’s doing.

The cricket will probably be attractive – usually it’s in Headingley – but otherwise everything remains rotten in the heart of Yorkshire cricket. With no end in sight to the unrest.

The long-feared exodus of players may have started with David Willey's return to Northants

The long-feared exodus of players may have started with David Willey’s return to Northants

Train strikes threaten to affect the crowd at the third test, despite good sales during the first four days. But there was an entrepreneurial move on Tuesday and it came not from Yorkshire but from the Barmy Army.

They launched a Twitter call to hear from those planning to drive to Leeds who could help stranded cardholders.

They also received an excellent response: people from all over the country offered spare car seats. The Barmies may get some bad press, but they do a lot of good for charity on tour and for England fans.

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