Police are hunting a man following an incident in which someone defecated on the property of British cricketer Azeem Rafiq. South Yorkshire Police have launched a hate crime probe after a man targeted the former bowler at his Barnsley home on October 5. Officials are treating the incident as racially motivated and have released a CCTV image of a man wanted for questioning.
As well as having built a successful career as a Yorkshire County Cricket Club great, Mr Rafiq, 31, became an integral figure in dismantling racism in cricket.
His account of racist experiences while playing for the club during two stints between 2008 to 2014 and 2016 to 2018 led to resignations from two senior officials.
But his outspoken position has left him vulnerable to further abuse, with the latest incident underlining his continued struggle.
South Yorkshire Police are now calling for people to come forward and assist them with the investigation.
A force spokesman said in a statement that officers were seeking the pictured man “in connection with a reported hate crime”.
They added: “At 6:18pm on October 5, it’s reported that a man defecated in the front garden of an address.
“It is believed that the incident, which is classed as a public order offence, is racially motivated.
“We are looking to speak to this man as we believe he could help us progress our enquiries.”
Mr Rafiq has spoken about the abuse he receives with the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.
He told committee members that media coverage of his fight against racism has led to “threats and abuse”.
Speaking to the panel in early December, he revealed the defecating incident and told the committee about others.
He said he sometimes receives abuse while out in public and has “at times” walked down the street “fearing for my life”.
Lord Kamlesh Patel, Baron Patel of Bradford, who took over as Yorkshire chairman following the departure of ex-boss Roger Hutton, corroborated Mr Rafiq’s claims.
After reading out a letter containing racist abuse, he said he had received a “bag full” of similar correspondence.
He criticised the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and called for changes to the “whole culture” within the cricket community.
Lord Patel said: “The way things are needs to change. This is sport – it’s something we enjoy and it brings people together.”
“This has been a very concerted attack – I don’t think people understand it.
“I don’t think the ECB have got it. We’ve got to look at the whole culture of cricket and get under the skin.
“We’re on a very long journey. A lot of people are going to have to get off the bus on the way.
He added: The way things are needs to change.”