Essex CCC to 'thoroughly investigate' racism allegations

Zoheb Sharif Essex Cricket Club.

Zoheb Sharif as a player at Essex County Cricket Club. - Credit: PA

The past weeks have seen Essex County Cricket Club engulfed by historic allegations of racism. 

Inspired by ex-Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq’s testimony to a parliamentary select committee, former Essex CCC players have also come forward with allegations of racial abuse.

The club has said all the reports "will be taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly”, and there has never been "a place for any kind of prejudice".

Zoheb Sharif, born in Leytonstone to parents from Pakistan, has alleged he was the victim of racist slurs while at Essex. 

Mr Sharif, now 38, told the Mirror: “To them it was banter. To me it wasn’t, but you don’t want to do anything to block your chance of getting into the first team.” 

The batsman, who made four county championship appearances before being released, also claimed he was told “no matter what you do, you will not play first team”. 

“It feels like my dream of playing for England one day was taken from me because of my skin,” he said. 

Essex's Maurice Chambers at the County Ground, Chelmsford.

Essex's Maurice Chambers at the County Ground, Chelmsford. - Credit: PA

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Maurice Chambers, who played for Essex between 2005 and 2013, then also made allegations of racial abuse. 

The Jamaica-born seamer told The Cricketer he did not report the abuse because he was worried about being seen as a troublemaker. 

"It was humiliating. It was isolating. I never told anyone, but I would go home at the end of the day and cry. It made me very unhappy,” he said. 

Essex Cricket’s chief executive John Stephenson has said he was “disappointed” to hear of the allegations. 

He said he had reached out to the former players to offer the club’s full support and praised their “bravery” in coming forward. 

He noted none of the individuals involved in Chambers’ complaints were involved with the club today. 

“Everything which has been reported will be taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly," he said in a statement. 

“As chief executive, I am committed to upholding the club’s multicultural and diverse values.  

“All allegations, regardless of when they took place, will be investigated thoroughly and urgently.  

“We are working with the England and Wales Cricket Board to assist us with these investigations. 

“There has never been a place, nor will there ever be a place, for any kind of prejudice at Essex County Cricket Club.” 

The club is working with Katharine Newton QC to begin an independent investigation into the allegation. 

Ms Newton led the investigation into allegations of race discrimination and bullying against the manager of the England women football team in 2017. 

The club has encouraged former players, staff or anybody who has experienced discrimination associated with the club to come forward. 

Anyone who wishes to report such concerns can email or anonymously at