Essex have admitted “further work needs to be done” on their approach to diversity after photographs of their celebrations at Lord’s appeared to show a Muslim player being showered with alcohol.
Essex lifted the Bob Willis Trophy on Sunday, triggering scenes of jubilation on the balcony of their dressing room at Lord’s. Amid the photographs of those moments, Feroze Khushi, a 21-year-old batsman who played several games in the earlier stages of the tournament, is seen grimacing as beer is poured over his head by another young player on the staff. ESPNcricinfo has chosen not to name that player.
While Essex released a statement insisting the club “pride themselves on their work within multi-diverse communities”, they admitted the celebrations “did not meet the inclusive values of the organisation”.
“As an organisation, Essex County Cricket Club prides themselves on their work within multi-diverse communities throughout the county and the surrounding areas,” the statement said.
“For a substantial period of time, Essex have had a multi-diverse team with players from different backgrounds, religions, and races, where cricket is at the heart of these communities.
“The club has worked extremely hard and will continue to bring cricket to anybody and everybody, and educate on diversity, but further work needs to be done across both sport and society in general, to widen people’s knowledge and make them more aware of cultural differences.
“Essex County Cricket Club are in regular dialogue with the ECB and the PCA around the education and development in this area.”
But the statement left some members of the Muslim cricket community underwhelmed. “I’m not really satisfied with that,” Sajid Patel of the National Cricket League, told ESPNcricinfo. “We’ve been discussing such issues for a long time. I would have thought the answers to these issues had filtered down by now.
“I don’t think there’s any benefit in blaming one, young player. Looking at those photographs, it seems the issue is more about ignorance than malice. No doubt the young man will learn from the experience.
“But I do blame the whole system. I do blame the team manager and the senior players who didn’t foresee this problem. I do think the PCA should be doing more to educate young players in this regard.”
In recent years, England’s Test and ODI teams – which have regularly featured two Muslim players in Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid – have desisted from spraying champagne during their trophy presentations to allow the pair to take a fuller part in the celebrations.
“We’ve seen the England team manage their celebrations in such a way that the Muslim players are included,” Patel added. “We should be better than this by now.”
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