Rana, who represented the club in 2008 and 2009, alleges he was the victim of “hooting” from home supporters, “a clear case of discrimination” from the club and that Rafiq confided in him about his concerns during the period they played together.
Rafiq had previously revealed to ESPNcricinfo that he had considered suicide after experiencing racism at Yorkshire. As a result, the club appointed a legal firm to conduct an investigation into the specific allegations and the wider issue of race relations at the club.
“I fully support what Azeem said and this has been the case with me as well,” Rana told ESPNcricinfo. “I never spoke about it because, as foreigners, we were temporary and somehow I managed to accept the way it is. So I just focussed on playing cricket. I never wanted to jeopardise my contracts.
“There was systematic taunting and it’s tough to do much about it. To us as overseas players from Asia, when you are not able to perform, the home crowd which should be supporting us, instead they started hooting and would taunt us with racist slurs like ‘Paki’.
“If you are performing then you get all the space but, in case I am not taking wickets, the attitude suddenly started to change. They started to give us a tough time, giving me a smaller hotel room and there used to be a clear case of discrimination. They would do some strange things to annoy us and make you feel lesser. It wasn’t abusive but their attitude wasn’t friendly towards Asians.
“At time I used to feel bad, but I decided to ignore it because I knew I was not going to live there permanently. But I know what Azeem went through. He did share his frustration in my playing days. The way he was released by the club wasn’t ideal and says a lot about them, but I had been advising him to stay strong and take it as a challenge.”
Rana, who also represented Sussex and Derbyshire, specified that Yorkshire was the only club he experienced such treatment. However, he also claimed that other Asian players had had negative experiences during their times at the club as overseas players.
“This only happens in Yorkshire,” he said. “I played several years for Sussex and they were tremendous; they treated me like their own family. Those two years were absolutely great.
“Even my first year in Yorkshire was okay but the trouble started in the second year.
Tino Best, who also had a spell as an overseas player at Yorkshire in 2010, confirmed he had overheard several players of Asian descent complaining of discrimination during his time at the club. He also expressed his “surprise and disappointment” that he had not been contacted by the firm conducting the investigation.
“My number hasn’t changed,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “If they really want to get to the bottom of these things, you would think they’d have given me a call.”
In response, Yorkshire released a statement to ESPNcricinfo in which they described the allegations as “very concerning” and reiterated their commitment to an investigation into the issue.
“Mr Naveed’s comments in relation to his and Mr Rafiq’s experiences playing for Yorkshire in 2009 are very concerning and we take them very seriously,” the statement reads.
“We have recently engaged an independent law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and they will report their findings in due course. In addition, we have also appointed a sub-committee, led by Dr Samir Pathak and supported by NACC Chairman, Mr Gulfraz Riaz, to review the findings of the investigation and provide advice on any further steps the club needs to take.
“We have committed to sharing recommendations which result from the investigation but as it is now underway are unable to comment on specific matters. There is no place for racism in cricket and we take these matters very seriously.”
It is understood that Rafiq spoke to the investigating panel on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, The Times has revealed that the ECB has launched an investigation into allegations that one of its employees used a racial slur against a cricketer of Pakistani heritage.
The accused player, who has worked as an ECB regional development officer, is alleged to have called an opposition player “Paki” during a match in the South Yorkshire Cricket League. The match was consequently abandoned when one side refused to continue to play.
The allegation is denied.