Jahid Ahmed: Third former Essex player alleges racism at county

Former bowler Jahid Ahmed played seven first-class games for Essex between 2005 and 2009

Jahid Ahmed has become the third former Essex player to allege he experienced racist abuse at the club, saying he “felt like an outsider all the time”.

He alleged that he was bullied by a senior coach and his voice was mocked by some players and some members of the coaching staff.

“Every day I would try to avoid their attention,” the 35-year-old said.

Former Essex players Zoheb Sharif and Maurice Chambers have also spoken about racist abuse they say they suffered at the club.

More than 2,000 people have now contacted the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket’s (ICEC) inquiry into discrimination in the sport following the racism scandal at Yorkshire.

Jahid stated that one coach mocked him by putting on an “exaggerated Asian accent” and made jokes about terrorism, as did some other players.

He said the ecosystem at Essex showed no respect for his Muslim faith.

“It was a white man’s world where brown people were outsiders,” Jahid said.

“I wanted to change my voice. I tried to deepen it. I really wanted to fit in.

“I felt like an outsider all the time I was at Chelmsford. I was always fearing what they would come up with and it made it incredibly hard to concentrate on my cricket.”

Essex said in a statement that they were “disheartened” to hear of Ahmed’s allegations.

“The allegations make difficult reading and they will be treated and investigated with the utmost seriousness,” chief executive John Stephenson said.

“I have reached out to him to offer him our complete sustain, and I hope he feels promoted and comfortable enough to be a part of our imminent investigation.

“It is clear as a sport there is a lot of work to be done, but we are moving in the right direction. The next period is going to be extremely difficult, especially for those sharing their experiences, but together, we will come out the other side better for it.”

Essex have established a reporting channel for anyone who experienced discrimination at the club.

Jahid said his “eyes had been opened” by Azeem Rafiq, who spoke about his experiences of racism at former club Yorkshire.

Yorkshire was widely condemned for saying it would not discipline anyone despite a report finding ex-player Rafiq was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying”.

Both the club and the England and Wales Cricket Board have apologised and promoted others to come forward.

Yorkshire’s independent whistleblowing hotline received 36 calls in the first week.

The ICEC inquiry has been open for a fortnight and received more than 1,000 calls in the first week.

“Since launching part one of our call for evidence we have been overwhelmed with response,” inquiry chair Cindy Butts said.

“We anticipate that more and more people will come forward.

“We continue to urge anyone who has experienced discrimination whether that be sexism, elitism or racism, to respond to our call for evidence so we can examine the state of equity in cricket.”

On Thursday, Rafiq apologised and said he is “deeply ashamed” for using anti-Semitic language in Facebook messages sent in 2011.

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