An activist at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament ahead of a debate in the chamber on racism in sport
An activist at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament ahead of a debate in the chamber on racism in sport
Since the publication of a report on racism in the game in the country, their cricket board has gone from one crisis and flashpoint to another
In 2021, Cricket Scotland was in a secure enough place to think about applying for Full Member (FM) status at the ICC. The criteria for applications had changed and the status was no longer explicitly linked to playing multi-day cricket. It made sense, especially in light of Ireland and Afghanistan having gained that status recently. Scotland was an established and ambitious Associate with a men's team capable of mixing it with the elite. By mid-2022 discussions were ongoing with the ICC about the application, and by one account, had become detailed.
Barely a year later Cricket Scotland is in meltdown, any aspirations of FM status blown to dust. The extent of any ambition presently is simply to get through to the next day. They are looking for their third chairperson since the start of 2022, and are on a fourth CEO in that time, the last three of whom have all been interim appointments. They can't afford permanent head coaches for the men's or women's teams or much by way of support staff. Late last year they were down to mere months of financial runway. And since July 2022 they have not been in charge of their own affairs, having effectively been placed in custodial care by SportScotland, the Scottish government's body for sport, and operating under "special measures".
Ground zero for this implosion was a report last July that found the board to be institutionally racist and the game in Scotland, at a broader level, to be exclusionary. The review was necessitated by the allegations of former cricketers Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh of the racism they had faced playing for and in Scotland.
They spoke up soon after Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq had spoken of his own experiences of racism in front of English parliamentarians, a testimony that transformed discourse on racism in the sport. Since then the toxicity of the saga at Yorkshire, south of the border, has been mirrored in Scotland, and because Scottish cricket is a smaller community, it is in many ways even more complicated for them. For one, being smaller means that the fallout could also be more deleterious.
There is still more to come. The report kickstarted forensic investigations of the more serious allegations of racism, 22 in total, although that number could rise. Some prominent names in Scotland cricket are implicated. Beyond that the investigations will conclude when they conclude, there's no specific timeline. So while everyone is aware of this approaching industrial-grade toxic spill, nobody can do much about it.
"There's a saying in Scotland," says Majid Haq. "They sine died ya."
Sine die is a Latin phrase, used to describe legal proceedings that are adjourned indefinitely with no set date for resumption. More colloquially, as in this case, it is used in parts of Scotland as a verb, to say that it's over, that you're not coming back from something or the other. If they've sine died ya, goodbye. Kaput.
That, Haq says, was his situation in 2017, after learning he was not in Scotland's plans for the World Cup Qualifier in 2018. He was - still is - their leading international wicket-taker and was back then their most capped player.
He was trying to return to the side, having not played for Scotland since he was abruptly sent back from the 2015 World Cup. After being dropped for their last two games in that tournament, he tweeted in anger: "Always tougher when your [sic] in the minority!! #colour #race." Given the timing, the only way to read the tweet was as saying that racism was involved in the decision; Haq argues it wasn't about cricket but the more general tribulations of being a minority.
Majid Haq (left) and Qasim Sheikh (right) at a press conference to mark the publication of the Changing the Boundaries report last year. Haq's allegations of racism late in 2021 kicked off a chain of events that plunged Cricket Scotland into crisis
© Getty Images
Majid Haq (left) and Qasim Sheikh (right) at a press conference to mark the publication of the Changing the Boundaries report last year. Haq's allegations of racism late in 2021 kicked off a chain of events that plunged Cricket Scotland into crisis © Getty Images
He hired Aamer Anwar, a prominent antiracism lawyer and political activist and was cleared by the board in June 2015 to return, but he never played for Scotland again. Later that year Haq was axed from the central-contracts pool and was prompted by legal advice to view that as a case of unfair dismissal. A conciliation was reached with the board, Haq was paid a settlement and asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
He moved on, continuing to play domestically, and though he says he wasn't the same, he was still doing the business: in his last active season, in 2021, he was the third-highest wicket-taker and sixth-highest run-scorer in the Cricket Scotland League Western Premiership.
In November that year, after he stopped playing, he watched Rafiq's charged testimony to the UK parliament's Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport committee (DCMS). The similarities with the end of his own international career struck Haq. And like Rafiq, he concluded that his career had been ended by racism and that his former employers were institutionally racist.
Haq went public with his thoughts on Sky TV a week later (along with one-time team-mate Qasim Sheikh). He didn't go into specifics at the time but a spate of his allegations are now among those under formal investigation. They include incidents from the 2015 World Cup as well as tours before it. They are from international and domestic cricket, and the alleged offences range from the use of racist language to racial stereotyping, to a lack of well-being support, to systemic examples of exclusionary behaviour.
In the maelstrom after Rafiq's testimony, the response in Scotland was swift. Less than a month later SportScotland commissioned a wide-ranging and independent review into racism in the Scottish game as well as into the workings of Cricket Scotland. Plan4Sport, an industry-expert body in providing equality and diversity support to companies, was commissioned to carry out the task.
Seven months later, having consulted with nearly 1000 participants from all levels of and positions within the game, and having conducted a forensic review of the board's governance and operational policies, they produced the Changing the Boundaries report. The headline findings were very headline-y. Cricket Scotland had failed 29 of 31 indicators of institutional racism; overall, the report found 448 examples that, it said a little wordily, "mapped against one of" their "indicators of institutional racism".
The numbers were big and loud enough to obliterate nuance and detail and grey immediately. Cricket Scotland was racist. The Scottish game, like its English counterpart, was racist. Anwar, the lawyer, issued a statement on behalf of Haq and Sheikh, to say the report was "the most devastating verdict of racism to be delivered on any sporting institution in the United Kingdom".
Gordon Arthur (right) was the interim Cricket Scotland chair when the Changing the Boundaries report was published. He was the second of two chairs the board has had since the start of 2022. A third is currently being sought
Craig Williamson / © SNS Group/Getty Images
Gordon Arthur (right) was the interim Cricket Scotland chair when the Changing the Boundaries report was published. He was the second of two chairs the board has had since the start of 2022. A third is currently being sought Craig Williamson / © SNS Group/Getty Images
Gordon Arthur, Cricket Scotland's interim CEO, in situ for all of ten days at that stage, owned the verdict, issuing a "heartfelt apology to all those who have been the victims of racism and discrimination in Scottish cricket".
"The racism and discrimination that has taken place in the sport that we all love should never have been allowed to happen, or to go unchallenged for so long," he said. "We recognise the impact this will have had on individuals and their families. We hope the report provides them with some reassurance that their voices have been heard, and we are sorry this did not happen sooner."
One day before the report was published, as an explicit acknowledgement of their failings in creating this culture, the entire board of Cricket Scotland resigned.
They said they had not seen the full contents of the report.
For a while, the game picked itself up, dusted itself off and moved on. The report was strong, with plenty of anonymised detail of instances of racism and exclusion across the game. It came with clear actions and recommendations for the short and long term: put some leadership in place pronto (because so many had resigned), establish an antiracism task force, produce an antiracism strategy, upgrade policies and procedures relating to equality and diversity, complete a governance review. On paper it all funnelled in into Cricket Scotland becoming the exemplar of an antiracist organisation in time.
In October 2022 the board appointed Anjan Luthra as its new chair. It felt like a progressive moment. At 31, he was young, but he had played cricket and tennis for Scotland at junior level (Judy Murray, mother of Andy, tweeted glowingly that Luthra was one of the most "charismatic kids" she had coached). More significantly, he was a successful entrepreneur, with experience in private equity and venture capital, and had founded two successful businesses.
It was precisely the kind of upwardly mobile profile that organisations hope can be reflected in their own trajectories. And as the report had also recommended a more diverse board, a chair of Indian origin with this commercial background was a no-brainer.
Haq and Sheikh both welcomed the appointment. Haq, who knew Luthra and had played with him at club level, was glowing. "It's one of the first days I have been quite positive about Scottish cricket for a long, long time," he told the Press Association. "I hope he can carry the hope forward over the next couple of years, and I'm pretty confident he can."
Luthra had not worked in cricket administration before but for a man who made his name in start-ups, he would have recognised the task in front of him. This was, after all, like starting up - again. As a result, the first few months, he says, were simply about "making sure the ship doesn't sink".
Scotland was generally regarded as being among the better second-rung international sides. Will the financial impact of the board's crises end up damaging that standing?
Rob Jefferies / © ICC/Getty Images
Scotland was generally regarded as being among the better second-rung international sides. Will the financial impact of the board's crises end up damaging that standing? Rob Jefferies / © ICC/Getty Images
For most Associate members, at the best of times, this is essentially the forever brief. But for Cricket Scotland, enfeebled by Covid, it was more urgent still. They had lost some staff, had furloughed others, and a swathe of international commitments had been wiped out.
"The cash reserves were so low that if we were to start losing money every single month, there was only months of runway at the firm," Luthra said when we spoke in April. "The first two months were all about saving Cricket Scotland from insolvency.
"I don't care what anyone says - that was the main priority, to make sure we balance the books, don't burn capital, and we give longevity to the firm."
Luthra's longer-term target was more holistic: to rebuild an organisation ravaged not just by the fallout from the racism report and Covid but also permanently hemmed in by the limitations of an Associate board.
"I never got a written formal statement or brief of instructions [for the role]," he said. "The plan of action was verbally agreed as I got appointed. I publicly said, 'I am here to rebuild the entire organisation', and that was the reason I took it. When I was interviewed, I was making it very clear I was going to do everything. I am a company builder and I am here to rebuild the firm entirely and look at it with a ten-year view."
If this reads like a forewarning of sorts, of Luthra building the case for his defence, then it is worth examining the challenge as he saw it, and its scale, because it is a central, contentious point.
Cricket Scotland is a well established Associate; in the language of the ICC's development corridors, traditionally high-performing. What that means, though, is that in the ICC's current financial model, the Scotland board receives approximately US$1.5 million (about £1.19m) a year. In other words, their funding is less than what Rajasthan Royals paid Sanju Samson for the last IPL season.
Cricket Scotland receives an annual grant from SportScotland of approximately £450,000 (about $567,000) and there has been, over the years, some additional targeted high-performance assistance from the ICC. But that can be arbitrary, and there has been no such payout since 2020 (though the ICC has waived a loan it had granted earlier). Occasional commercial deals add some value.
Over five years to 2021, Cricket Scotland had balance sheet reserves of around £300,000 in its accounts. In the Covid-hit years of 2020 and 2021, it logged losses of £25,000 and a surplus of £1856 respectively. It works with 30-35 full-time staff, of which about half are men's and women's centrally-contracted players.
The Running Out Racism campaign has been front and centre in matters to do with Scotland cricket in recent times - to an unusually prominent degree, many have said
© Getty Images
The Running Out Racism campaign has been front and centre in matters to do with Scotland cricket in recent times - to an unusually prominent degree, many have said © Getty Images
This, then, is the scale of their operation, where decisions that would barely feel consequential for bigger boards take on existential proportions. A scale where the overlay of a racism crisis such as this can become a chokehold. When the board resigned last year, it warned that resolving racism issues and overhauling governance would be "huge challenges for a small organisation like Cricket Scotland".
Taking action on the racism report was very much on Luthra's agenda, just that it was sharing space with everything else that was also a priority on the agenda.
Some progress was made. By the end of the year, the draft of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) strategy was ready and an EDI advisory group had also been set up that would help deliver on it. As part of its oversight, SportScotland was bound to deliver quarterly updates on progress at Cricket Scotland. In January this year it recorded that of a set of key recommendations and sub-recommendations from the report, the majority were either complete or on the way to completion.
The first sign of trouble emerged in March this year, in the form of some robust questioning from Tony Brian, a former chair of Cricket Scotland who stepped down from that post in March 2022 after a seven-year stint, for what were said to be health reasons. He was due to complete his tenure in April, a few months before the Changing the Boundaries report was published.
Brian put together a small commentary on Changing the Boundaries, concluding that the report was "fatally and irredeemably flawed". As the chair for a considerable portion of the period just prior to the report, he stands implicated by default for the culture it condemns. So it is legitimate to view the motive behind his questions and criticisms of the report as a defence of his tenure, and reasonable to argue that he cannot be an entirely objective critic. Brian was chair when the review was commissioned and when Plan4Sport was carrying out its investigations, the board made statements supportive of the review.
But read in entirety, it is equally reasonable to infer from his commentary a question that will resonate among those familiar with the Rafiq-Yorkshire saga. The response to Haq's and Qasim's allegations needed to be immediate because the atmosphere around the discourse demanded it. But in the rush to be seen to be taking action and then producing the report, was the process lacking the procedural rigour expected of such exercises, in a way familiar from the Yorkshire affair?
Brian claimed key figures such as previous CEOs and head coaches were never interviewed as part of the review, despite them being implicated in some of the complaints made by Haq and Sheikh. Brian said he had to insist on being interviewed himself and that when it did take place, it was, ultimately, an inadequate interview.
Brian questioned the role of Plan4Sport, the organisation commissioned to conduct the review for SportScotland. They were not, he argued, global experts, as claimed, nor were they big enough (three employees, including a director) for the task, and had to themselves use external contractors for the job. And there was no evidence, he wrote, that they had executed a review of this nature and scale before.
Louise Tildswell, managing director of Plan4Sport, the agency that carried out the review into racism in Scotland cricket, and Stewart Harris, chief executive of SportScotland
© Getty Images
Louise Tildswell, managing director of Plan4Sport, the agency that carried out the review into racism in Scotland cricket, and Stewart Harris, chief executive of SportScotland © Getty Images
"Plan4Sport did not have the competence to carry out the review… The contractors chosen to fill the gaps in Plan4Sport's competence had no forensic investigative experience and thus the review lacked robust evidence-gathering in a comprehensive and fair manner from all the relevant parties."
Brian's six-page commentary also said the 31 indicators of institutional racism the board was judged against were created for the review by Plan4Sport. "The criteria have not been validated or recognised by any external body and have no official standing. They were not discussed with CS before they were used by Plan4Sport," he wrote. Because they had never been previously intimated to anyone, the dossier concludes: "CS was therefore assessed against unpublished and unknown standards."
In the report Plan4Sport say the indicators they developed were based on the Macpherson definition of institutional racism - Sir William Macpherson led the public inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence, a black British teenager murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993. Macpherson completed his inquiry in 1999 and his conclusion - that the police were institutionally racist - became a working definition of institutional racism.
Brian also pointed to the pre-existing relationship between Plan4Sport and SportScotland in the matter of providing EDI support and training to Scottish sporting bodies - including Cricket Scotland. Plan4Sport had supported Cricket Scotland and consulted on EDI development as recently as 2020, the commentary recorded, saying that no concerns had been raised in the recent past before the review. If an organisation is found to be institutionally racist in 2022, this implies, surely there should have been some warning signs in previous years.
As for the 448 separate examples of institutionally racist breaches, there is no detail as to their degree or nature, or when they date from. Brian's commentary claimed they have "never been validated, published or seen by Cricket Scotland or anyone outside of Plan4sport (including SportScotland)". In fact, it was only revealed in SportScotland's January update - six months after the report was published - that over half of these breaches (246) were "related to policies and procedures across the sport" and not complaints from individuals of racist behaviour, as had become the widespread assumption.
Brian wasn't around during the final stages of review or the report's publication, but he told ESPNcricinfo that the board had been given no opportunity to review the document while it was in draft.
"There was no discussion as to what the contents might be other than three days before publication, when they were given a very précised verbal version," he said when we spoke in April.
"Originally SportScotland had put in their timetable that the draft report would be done by June  and that there would be discussions with stakeholders. That never happened and was one of the key things in all of this, that there was no chance given to Cricket Scotland or other people referred to in the document even obliquely, like me, to respond to what was said. It was published without challenge or feedback or querying opportunity."
Brian submitted his commentary officially to SportScotland and the Scottish government at the end of May this year but his concerns were initially published in the Times at the end of March, during a week in which there was a dizzying and swift escalation of the crisis.
Plan4Sport's 31 indicators of institutional racism. Former Cricket Scotland chair Tony Brian, a prominent critic of the way the racism review has been conducted, says the criteria for these indicators have not been validated or recognised by any external body and have no official standing
Andrew Mulligan / © PA Photos/Getty Images
Plan4Sport's 31 indicators of institutional racism. Former Cricket Scotland chair Tony Brian, a prominent critic of the way the racism review has been conducted, says the criteria for these indicators have not been validated or recognised by any external body and have no official standing Andrew Mulligan / © PA Photos/Getty Images
Just before the Times story came out, Luthra said in a six-month update that the board had made "significant progress" and had "significantly upgraded" its approach to EDI. If they continued, he hoped, they will "exit special measures by October 31".
The lack of clarity on what these "special measures" constituted was a growing source of tension, but Luthra's statement lit the touch paper. Running Out Racism, a group that works with SportScotland and has representation on Cricket Scotland's EDI advisory group, called Luthra's statement "unsubstantiated nonsense". Citing the mere establishment of the EDI advisory group as an achievement was, it said, "frankly embarrassing" and it criticised the fact that only one meeting of the advisory group had been held till then.
Six days later, four members of the advisory group - including women's international Abtaha Maqsood - resigned in protest at Luthra's claims. Four days after that, Luthra resigned, barely six months into the job, citing a fundamental disagreement with the way SportScotland was running the sport and the influence of a "lobby group and a handful of individuals associated with them".
It all unravelled quickly but in truth tensions had been bubbling away for a while. The underlying faultline was a divergence of views among stakeholders on the big picture, though the role of personal grievances and egos in a tiny universe can't be discounted either.
At heart was, according to Luthra, a "massive misalignment of vision" between him and SportScotland and Running Out Racism. The latter calls itself a campaign, of players, fans and administrators, set up after the Rafiq-Yorkshire saga, to do exactly what it says on the tin. Running Out Racism played an active role in Plan4Sport's review and is involved in the investigations of the allegations of racism currently underway as well.
Luthra wanted to fix the bigger problems of Cricket Scotland. SportScotland and Running Out Racism, he contends, wanted to fix only the racism. After he resigned, he said that the cost of the racism "fix" - close to £1 million in funding from SportScotland - over the last year meant funding cuts elsewhere, including the senior national teams, both of whom are without a full-time coach and manage with skeletal support staff. That amount is Luthra's estimation, built on two rounds of the annual grants from SportScotland. While he agrees this may not have been spent directly on the Changing the Boundaries report, he argues that 90% of the team - including the CEO - were spending most of their time on it, which amounted to cost of time spent.
The tiny scale of Cricket Scotland and the expectations placed on a board of that size to deal with racism is a recurrent theme. In his commentary, Brian said there was no recognition of this problem of scale, particularly in terms of policy and document expectations - more than half, remember, of the 448 examples were related to policies and procedures across the game. With limited human resources, "it's not easy to keep up with everybody's expectations and stay at the cutting edge of policy development", Brian said. And even if those resources are somehow available, capacity is restricted. This is Cricket Scotland, not FIFA or the English FA, which can attract the best labour in the market. It has been one of the observations of Yorkshire CC that the will to implement change is not necessarily matched by the capabilities of the personnel responsible for it.
Majid Haq has been the face of the Scotland crisis, in a role analogous to that of Azeem Rafiq, who blew the lid off racism in Yorkshire cricket earlier in the decade
Andy Buchanan / © AFP
Majid Haq has been the face of the Scotland crisis, in a role analogous to that of Azeem Rafiq, who blew the lid off racism in Yorkshire cricket earlier in the decade Andy Buchanan / © AFP
Feeding into this has been SportScotland's role. The exact phrasing is that the government body has placed Cricket Scotland in "special measures" oversight. But that is an operational state the nature of which has never been clearly defined, other than that it involves an unspecified degree of oversight over the cricket board. Neither Luthra nor Brian were clear on what it meant.
"It's a question my board and I asked SportScotland but did not receive an answer [for]," Luthra said. "No one seems to know what the definition of 'special measures' is. There are no briefing notes or terms. We don't know what the responsibilities of SportScotland and Cricket Scotland are during this time."
Even before the review, SportScotland worked closely with Cricket Scotland, as it does with every sporting body in the country. As was normal protocol, Cricket Scotland had a partnership manager assigned to them, who invariably ended up attending board meetings. At the very least that speaks of a degree of complicity - minimal, perhaps, but tangible - in the failings found in the report SportScotland itself commissioned to look into a body it funds.
This, as well as numerous other questions arising from Brian, and from Luthra's account of his time, are, one would think, legitimate questions for SportScotland to answer. When approached to participate in this reportage, ESPNcricinfo was referred by a spokesperson to the published quarterly progress updates. A separate request for an interview with Forbes Dunlop, the SportScotland CEO, yielded no response. And at the end of May, when SportScotland received Brian's commentary, ESPNcricinfo was told after another approach that Dunlop was not available as he was away on holiday.
SportScotland did put out a public response to Brian. But in ignoring its more specific charges with a broad rebuttal, it seemed to equate questioning with outright denial (for the record, neither Brian or Luthra denies there is racism in the game).
"That people still refuse to accept the findings of Changing the Boundaries is a cause for concern," the statement read. "The denial of racism is a barrier to racial equity and is doing further damage to the sport that so many people in communities across the country love.
"The findings […] were accepted in full by the previous Cricket Scotland Board who apologised multiple times for the racism and discrimination problems within the sport [but noted they had not seen the report in full when apologising]. The governing body is now fully committed to implementing all recommendations contained in the report and we will continue to support them through the rebuilding process.
"We have full confidence in how the […] review was carried out and will not be conducting any further reviews."
Former Cricket Scotland chairman Tony Brian (right), whose term ended just before the publication of the Changing the Boundaries report, has said previous CEOs and head coaches were not interviewed as part of the review, though they figured in the allegations made by Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh
Former Cricket Scotland chairman Tony Brian (right), whose term ended just before the publication of the Changing the Boundaries report, has said previous CEOs and head coaches were not interviewed as part of the review, though they figured in the allegations made by Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh © ICC/Sportsfile
Plan4Sport, which carried out the review, was also approached by ESPNcricinfo but did not respond. Khadija Mohammed, an academic who was part of the board's EDI advisory group that resigned, also did not agree to speak despite requests*.
The only party involved in the review and investigations that is happy to talk is Running Out Racism. It has been accused by Luthra of being an undue influence on SportScotland, to the degree that he thinks Running Out Racism is effectively running the game in Scotland. Indeed, it can well be said it is unusual that a campaign has as much of a public presence and voice in the game as Running Out Racism does, though equally it could be countered that these are exceptional times.
Luthra claims that during his tenure the board was paralysed in its decision-making by a fear of upsetting Running Out Racism and the "whistleblowers" Haq and Sheikh. It was Running Out Racism's response of "unsubstantiated nonsense" to Luthra's update that triggered the resignations, including Luthra's. But that actually masks the nuance of Running Out Racism saying it has given the board time and space to move, and even agreeing that progress was made.
"I would say we have, and continue to be, fairly pragmatic about what is required to shift a culture and the amount of work that goes into it," said Paul Reddish, Running Out Racism's head. "As a campaign, we have tried to work with them, alongside them, critique them.
"The issue isn't necessarily a lack of progress. The thing that was most frustrating with [Luthra's six-month] statement was that it made some claims that didn't feel anywhere close to reality."
Reddish was a voluntary director at Cricket Scotland for three years, until 2019, and so understands the limitations presented by the small size of the body and attendant pressures. He has been in and around the game for long enough to have developed enlightened views on racism in sport.
"We've done a huge amount of work behind the scenes, giving views and input and providing support. And we also recognise that the sport has multiple things going on, that don't involve only the report. We've tried to be pragmatic about all of that, we've tried to be understanding."
Reddish's view is that the nature of the challenge was always outside Luthra's wheelhouse. Though he made it clear that Running Out Racism never called for Luthra to resign, this assessment reveals the problem, the differences in what either party saw as the central challenges. "Anjan has an incredible track record in entrepreneurship and business. But when you're trying to build consensus and trust with groups, that's a very different skill set to building apps. He's probably misread what is required to deliver the change."
Paul Reddish of Running Out Racism (second from right), the campaign that has been critical of how Cricket Scotland, under the leadership of Anjan Luthra, has handled the racism allegations and their aftermath
Craig Williamson / © SNS Group/Getty Images
Paul Reddish of Running Out Racism (second from right), the campaign that has been critical of how Cricket Scotland, under the leadership of Anjan Luthra, has handled the racism allegations and their aftermath Craig Williamson / © SNS Group/Getty Images
Soon after Luthra resigned it was reported that he was friendly with Nigel Farage, the notorious far-right politician. The story was based on private messages exchanged between Luthra and Haq in August last year, a couple of months before Luthra was appointed chairman. On the surface this was a damning exposure, a Scottish-Indian chair of a board branded institutionally racist, networking with the public face of anti-immigration sentiment in the UK, whose most recent dip into cricket was to question why the entire Australian team chose to shun champagne in their on-podium celebrations of the World Test Championship final win out of respect to the religious beliefs of one man, Usman Khawaja.
In reality the leak about Luthra's connection to Farage provides but a peek into the nature of this crisis: it's impossible to banish the sense that personal grievances and schoolyard ego scraps are fuelling it as much as anything else.
Luthra had never hidden the fact of his ties with Farage, who does personalised videos for Luthra's Thrillz.com (the site specialises in arranging personalised video messages and brand endorsements). An image of Farage sits prominently on the homepage, as it has done since November 2021. Luthra defends the relationship as proof that he inhabits a world where he can work with people he has differences of views with.
In the messages, which Luthra says he didn't leak, he and Haq joked about the poor optics. Then Luthra was appointed - and incidentally, both Haq and he agree that the former played a role in Luthra's appointment as chair. The Farage connection gestated, albeit in full public view, until April, when it came out, poor optics guaranteed.
There has been plenty of proxy sniping since, mostly across social media. Luthra, for one, has not held back - and scrolling through his timeline will reinforce the view of those who see the Farage connection as a smoking gun of his unsuitability. But with each tweet, each retweet, each Whatsapp-ed claim and counter, with every question about this motive or that intention, every insinuation made - none of it worth reporting but still grist to the mill, positions on either side have only dug in deeper.
Eventually the focus will shift to the 22 cases of alleged racism that are under investigation currently. These have come to Cricket Scotland through a referrals process set up after the Changing the Boundaries report came out. That process is being overseen by sports-law firm Harper MacLeod and the race equality charity Sporting Equals, as well as, where appropriate, Running Out Racism, and with oversight by SportScotland.
The process carries out an initial, exploratory investigation of allegations of racism before passing them to Cricket Scotland with recommendations for next steps. Cricket Scotland might, as one course of action, decide to set up hearings for some cases, with a newly installed independent panel adjudicating on them.
The disciplinary process in Cricket Scotland is not, as this flowchart shows, straightforward. Even arriving at that number of 22 cases is not easy to wrap your head around.
In SportScotland's last update in April, they said the number of referrals passed to Cricket Scotland after the publication of the Changing the Boundaries report was up to 87, "relating to 53 allegations of racism against 31 different people, two clubs and two Regional Associations". There were 62 complaints in total, of which nine were not race-related. Of the remaining 53, 22 have been deemed to require further formal investigation. Another review of all complaints, the update says, however, could lead to this number being amended in the coming weeks. Simple.
Majid Haq (left) and Qasim Sheikh after a meeting with Cricket Scotland in October 2022
Andrew Milligan / © PA Photos/Getty Images
Majid Haq (left) and Qasim Sheikh after a meeting with Cricket Scotland in October 2022 Andrew Milligan / © PA Photos/Getty Images
And since that update, Cricket Scotland has announced that four referrals have already been dismissed without the need for a hearing, for lack of evidence, among other reasons, and/or "other significant extenuating circumstances". There is no deadline for when the others might be concluded or resolved, though 16 more are close to being so.
Nothing has been made public about these investigations other than their existence, not their nature, when they took place, or the identity of those involved. From the limited information ESPNcricinfo has seen relating to some of them, however, the fallout will not be limited to Scotland.
There is conjecture about the ratio of complainants to complaints, namely that the vast majority of complaints under investigation have come from just one or two people. That doesn't invalidate those complaints, though if correct, it could rescale the problem somewhat.
Given it is coming up to a year since the publication of the Changing the Boundaries report and some allegations are still only at an investigative stage, there is understandable frustration among claimants, alleged perpetrators and administrators alike. The longer it drags on, the longer it takes Cricket Scotland and cricket in Scotland to move on. Important questions about the cases, about so much of this, linger and fester, curdling the mood.
So does the fear that this will go the way of England's in the matter of the ECB's disciplinary hearings for Michael Vaughan and others - if it isn't already there. By their very nature, such hearings are adversarial, pitting one person's words against another. In England, they polarised an already divisive atmosphere.
That is something Scotland must avoid, Reddish says. Running Out Racism has been pushing hard to incorporate some element of reconciliatory justice through the course of the investigations, in the hope that it takes some edge off the toxicity.
"If somebody can see what they've done is wrong - take Matthew Hoggard, who has apologised - what we're pushing for in Scotland is for that not to go to a formal hearing, provided the complainant is happy, but to go into a process where the two can reconcile," Reddish says.
He recognises it won't be possible in all cases. But he wants the learning from down south to be that not every problem needs a sledgehammer, that it isn't about ending careers as much as it is about education, and that there is a responsibility of care to those who are brave enough to admit to the charges laid against them.
"It's a really, really tough moment," Reddish says, the one indisputable truth in it all.
Additional reporting by Vithushan Ehantharajah
*The refusal of so many of those involved to talk is an indication of how polarised the atmosphere is. Even the ICC, which, as Cricket Scotland's biggest funder should be a key voice here, only agreed to answer questions via email, and then, after considerable delay, ignored specific questions and sent a response so generic it isn't worth publishing.
Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo
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