Eastern Eye (UK)
‘THEY TRIED TO DESTROY ME’
Why Lord Kamlesh Patel is quitting as chair of Yorkshire Cricket Club
A “SMALL and privileged” unnamed racist group has cost Yorkshire County Cricket Club (CCC) millions of pounds in sponsorship and legal fees, and it is one of the reasons why Lord Patel said he is walking away from the game he loves.
In an exclusive interview, Patel told Eastern Eye that personal attacks on him had become a distraction and were harming the club, so he felt the right thing to do was to quit as chair.
He said last month that he will step down at Yorkshire CCC’s next annual general meeting, in March.
“It was relentless,” said the peer, speaking about “a vicious campaign” to oust him.
“They cost the organisation hundreds of thousands of pounds; well, millions, if you talk about sponsorships we lost because of their constant PR campaign, that constant attack. We lost a fortune in legal fees, defending the sort of untruths they were throwing about.”
Patel was appointed to his position at Yorkshire CCC in November 2021, following former player Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of abuse that he endured at the English club.
The peer staved off a threat by English cricket authorities to withdraw lucrative international matches from Yorkshire’s Headingley headquarters in Leeds by introducing governance reforms.
He told Eastern Eye that most of Yorkshire backed everything he did, although a vocal, yet powerful, minority was still “bent on destroying” him and what he was trying to do.
He added, “I was working with hardly any staff, working with good friends and volunteers 24/7.
“It’s a real shame. I don’t want to have a go at the media in any way shape or form, but it’s very clear from all the evidence, [from all] that everybody’s said, two or three media outlets
LORD PATEL told Eastern Eye he is convinced that Yorkshire is in a better position than when he found it, writes Barnie Choudhury.
The former England and Yorkshire pace bowler Darren Gough is now the permanent managing director of cricket. Ex-West Indies all-rounder Ottis Gibson was appointed as head coach in January 2022, while Stephen Vaughan became the club's chief executive.
Patel said, “We've made some terrific changes in terms of young people and the children to engage with cricket and the pathways.
“We've gone from something like two per cent of our pathways' children, where they are coming to professional cricket are from a black and ethnic minority community to over a third being in the team.
“Over a 60 per cent increase in people accessing and coming to trials, incredible in the
space of six months, and a lot of hard work has gone into that.”
The peer described the past 15 months at Yorkshire as “a year unlike any other”. And he admitted, with a rueful smile, he had learned a lot.
“I've never gone on the race card. It's not about me. You see me as you get with me. I'll work with things. I'll try and do things right.
“Occasionally, I make mistakes, but I'll rectify them quickly, if I have.
“I do not believe – fundamentally – that I did anything wrong at Yorkshire. I think all the actions I took were absolutely right.
“And would I take them again? Yes, I would take them all over again. I would probably be even stronger in what I did.”