It has been a whirlwind since I appeared before MPs almost two months ago, and what Yorkshire and Lord Patel have done to bring about changes is certainly a step in the right direction.
That is why I think the time has come to say that we have to make international cricket so essential to their very survival. Yorkshires should be able to watch England in the test and the white ball matches at Headingley this summer.
The county had been very reluctant to implement any sort of change during my time at the club, and since then I have highlighted everything that had happened to me there. And that’s why we were here in the first place.
It’s been a whirlwind since I appeared before MPs at a select committee two months ago
But if we ask an institution to look at itself, then we have to recognize when it starts to show that it is genuinely sorry and is trying to start fixing things. Yorkshire needs to be supported and helped to move in the right direction.
They seem ready to do the right thing now. Hopefully their actions under Lord Patel’s new presidency have shown this. They gave me some hope ahead of that day’s report to Parliament before the select committee of the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, which is expected to be released shortly.
A lot has happened since then and I have to thank Julian Knight, Chairman of the DCMS Select Committee, for giving me this platform to tell everyone what happened. I didn’t expect things to go this far.
I must also salute the work of Leeds MP Alex Sobel, Nav Mishra who raised the issue in the House of Commons, and Baroness Morgan, the former Secretary for Culture.
I knew things would be thrown at me eventually and I always said I’m not perfect and made my own mistakes. I bitterly regret making the anti-Semitic comments that emerged when I was younger, for example, and I try to learn from those mistakes. The Jewish community has been so kind to me.
But I’m not interested in mud. It’s not just about me or anyone involved in it. There is a much bigger picture. Lord Patel was honest with me when I first met him after the investigation. He told me it could take months to sort things out and I feel like he always tried to do the right thing.
Lord Patel, Yorkshire’s new president, is pushing hard to help change things
The good thing includes the appointment of Darren Gough as Director of Cricket. It’s no secret we’ve been friends since he was one of my first captains and we’ve always kept in touch. I am encouraged by his involvement, especially because the game needs people like him directly involved. Goughie will get things done.
It seems like everyone outside the county wants to throw the book out in Yorkshire and what concerns me is that some want to do so in order to make themselves look better or to distract from their issues. . I do not agree with this because it will not cause a change.
My message to any country that thinks it can ignore this as a Yorkshire problem and demand tougher penalties on it is to look at the numbers. There have been over 4,000 complaints to the ECB since it set up its commission to investigate racism in English cricket, and 50 to Yorkshire’s own hotline.
As a result, I believe it is time for Headingley to be re-established as an international cricket venue
Depriving England’s Yorkshire matches would hurt prospects of helping the next generation
This means there are thousands of cases outside of Yorkshire and what happens to them today could easily happen to another county tomorrow.
The last thing I want now is kids from Leeds, Bradford and across the county being denied top level cricket that could inspire them. Rather than helping to solve the game’s problems, Yorkshire’s international suspension could end up adding to it.
I am not saying that everything is fine now in my former riding and that we can all move on. Yorkshire needs to be watched to make sure this is really the start of something big and meaningful. All is not going well yet, not by far.
But let’s do it right. I never wanted it to be about punishing individuals for their mistakes while avoiding the big picture. I never wanted to make people scapegoats when the real culprits go unpunished.
Darren Gough’s appointment as director of cricket is the right one and he’s a good person
For example, Matthew Hoggard called me the morning after my first media interview about what happened to me when no one expected all of this to go anywhere. So many people thought it would all go away.
We talked about what happened in the Yorkshire dressing room and Hoggy felt he should apologize for his involvement in it. I can’t thank him enough for that. That’s all I wanted: for people to recognize that what happened was unacceptable and that everyone involved had to consider what they could have done to fix it.
So I hope Hoggy for one was not affected because it seems to me that only people who apologize are held responsible. He was brave as others looked away.
It’s the same with David Lloyd. The minute I walked out of that DCMS investigation – where Bumble’s name had popped up during questioning – I found messages from him on my phone asking if he could get in touch. We spoke that day, I told Bumble how I was feeling, he accepted that he had made a mistake and apologized and we moved on.
I think it was wrong for Bumble to lose his job at Sky and I don’t see it as a sign of “change”
It seems people like Matthew Hoggard who have apologized for unacceptable behavior are held to account
So I really hope that his leaving Sky has nothing to do with me as it wasn’t my intention that he lost his job or that Hoggy lost his job.
It is not a change. It just looks like a case where someone throws the book at them to make themselves look good. This is not fair and it does not suit me at all.
Change is coming and I am hopeful and encouraged. We have to show a little love and compassion now. We all have to work together. This is the only way to create a truly welcoming environment for all.
I don’t want Yorkshire to disappear from this environment. At first I thought international cricket should be taken away from them. But they’ve done enough to justify getting it back, at least for now.
I want to see England play Headingley this summer. I can even go downstairs to look at myself.