Another former Essex player of Asian heritage has come forward to allege racist abuse, claiming a team-mate asked him if he was “going to bomb the club”.
Jahid Ahmed says he came to “dread” going to work as he was routinely mocked over his accent and even compared to a terrorist by players and some of the coaching staff.
His claims that Essex was “a white man’s world where brown people were outsiders” come after Zoheb Sharif, 38, described how he also was called “bomber” and “curry muncher”.
“We had a senior coach who I felt bullied me,” Jahid told the Cricketer website in relation to his alleged treatment in 2007. “I saw certain components in his behaviour which I felt were discriminatory. So sometimes young players coming into the environment would try and fit in by joining in with that sort of chat.”
Jahid, who believes he was the first British-born cricketer of Bangladeshi heritage to play county cricket, said he was compared to a terrorist when “I was in the dressing room with three players and a coach”.
“One of the guys was younger than me,” Jahid added. “He was new to the team. But he felt the way to fit in was to pick on the Muslim. So he kept saying things like: ‘Would you bomb us?’ And do you know what? He was kind of right because those other players and the coach laughed and he was seen as a great lad.”
Jahid claims one of his coached also used to put on an exaggerated Asian accent and joking about terrorism. “Every day I would come into the club and try to avoid their attention,” Jahid says. “But I dreaded it. I was always fearing what they would come up with. It made it incredibly hard to concentrate on my cricket… I wanted to change my voice. I tried to deepen it. I really wanted to fit in. But there were times when pretty much everyone in the dressing room joined in the laughter at my expense. It was basically: ‘you’re a Muslim; you’re a terrorist.’ At other times, a senior player told me I was a ‘curry muncher’ and said I ‘stank of curry’. It was bullying. And it went on every day until I finished playing.”
Jahid, who is now working as a coach for Platform cricket in south east London, also claimed the club insisted on him attending a team meeting in the pub during Ramadan. “I was fasting and I really didn’t want to go,” he added. “But they insisted. I never drank alcohol and wouldn’t say I felt pressurised to do so. I knew, being a Muslim, I would miss out on things. But I accepted that…. This is why what Azeem Rafiq has done is so important. It opened our eyes. It inspired us. What he has done is so important and is the reason I’m talking to you now. We’ve allowed these things to go on too long. It has to stop now.”
The Cricketer reports that at least one of his alleged abusers remains active in the county system. Another has moved to a different club in a coaching role. Cricketing authorities have been alerted to the case.
Jahid says he has since received support from Grant and Andy Flower, Ryan ten Doeschate, Darren Gough and James Foster. The allegations are the latest in a slew of racism claims to hit Essex in recent weeks. Last week, former England Lions seamer Maurice Chambers said he was called a “f—— monkey”, taunted with bananas and forced to listen to discriminatory jokes while playing for the club.
Chairman John Faragher had also quit the previous Friday following claims – which he denies – that he used the phrase “n—– in the woodpile” during a meeting in 2017.
Of the claims outlined by Jahid, Essex chief executive, John Stephenson, said: “I am disheartened to learn of these new historic racial allegations from a former player about several of his ex-team-mates and a previous member of staff. The allegations reported to The Cricketer make difficult reading and they will be treated and investigated with the utmost seriousness.
“I have reached out to him to offer him our full support, and I hope he feels encouraged and comfortable enough to be a part of our imminent investigation. At the end of last week, we announced that the club will be working with Katharine Newton QC to focus on these allegations which have recently come to light.
“Ms Newton specialises in employment and discrimination cases and has widespread experience covering an extensive range of issues. Having someone of this stature looking into these allegations will allow us to complete a thorough and detailed independent investigation.”