The ECB have offered Azeem Rafiq three days with their legal team to prepare him for the Yorkshire racism hearing next month in a move that will raise questions about the governing body’s role in the process.
Rafiq is the main source and in many cases the sole witness to allegations that have led to seven ex-Yorkshire players being charged by the ECB with bringing the game into disrepute by using racist language against him.
The hearing is scheduled to finally take place between March 1 and 9 after it was postponed twice last year, with former England players Michael Vaughan, Matthew Hoggard and Tim Bresnan among those defending themselves against accusations of racism.
Rafiq had threatened not to take part in the process unless it was held in public, but has relented and agreed to attend after the ECB’s independent panel took the unusual step of sanctioning an open hearing.
England leg spinner Adil Rashid has supported Rafiq’s allegations of racism against Vaughan, but his participation in the hearing is in doubt, as he has told the ECB that he will not be back in the country until June.
The 34-year-old is currently in South Africa for England’s one-day international series and will be in Bangladesh in March for two white-ball series, before going to play for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL the following month.
A number of the players involved are unhappy with the hearing taking place in public and may withdraw, particular those no longer involved in cricket such as Hoggard.
The ECB declined to comment.
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