mobile app bar

“Pujara was called ‘Steve'”: Azeem Rafiq exclaimes Cheteshwar Pujara was also subject to racism by players at Yorkshire County Club

Gurpreet Singh

"Pujara was called 'Steve'": Azeem Rafiq exclaimes Cheteshwar Pujara was also subject to racism by players at Yorkshire County Club

Azeem Rafiq exclaimes Cheteshwar Pujara was referred to as ‘Steve’ at Yorkshire County Cricket Club as former’s racism testimony concludes

As former Yorkshire Cricket County Club (YCCC) player Azeem Rafiq’s testimony over institutional racism comes to an end, the graves of denial, negligence, and downplaying of several incidents of institutional racism over the years, have come to the fore.

Giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee hearing on Yorkshire’s investigation into Rafiq’s claims of institutional racism at the club, Rafiq also stated how the players of colour at the club- including India’s Test batter Chateshwar Pujara had to deal with racist slurs and euphemisms.

Azeem Rafiq exclaimes Cheteshwar Pujara was referred to as ‘Steve’

Speaking on how the fellow Asian players at the club were treated, Rafiq mentioned Pujara, was named and called ‘Steve’ even while requesting not to be called that way.

“Once I left the club, Cheteshwar Pujara joined the club, and Jack Brooks I think started it where he didn’t feel the need to call him by his first name.

Not only Jack, the coaches, the media, Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire website, Yorkshire twitter page, commentators around the world, and some high profile people, everyone called him that. It just shows again, back to what the institutional failings and what that environment showed people how they could behave”, exclaimed Rafiq.

ALSO READ: Azeem Rafiq expresses disappointment in Michael Vaughan and Joe Root for normalizing accounts of incidents of racism at Yorkshire County Club

Pujara was given the ‘so-called nickname’ by Englishman Jack Brooks when the duo used to play county cricket together for Yorkshire. The excuse given was that they find it difficult to pronounce ‘Cheteshwar’ and hence started addressing the premier Indian batsman as ‘Steve’.

“Well I would prefer Cheteshwar, but it is difficult to pronounce so the guys have come up with Steve. Jack Brooks started off with this. He could not pronounce my first name so he was asking me what nickname do I have. I said I don’t have any and so they said, ‘we will start calling you Steve’,” Pujara had said to in 2018.

Azeem Rafiq further added that “Kevin” is a derogatory phrase which was used by Gary Ballance to signify a player of colour.

There is an England player nicknamed “Black Dog”, he adds. Claims that Alex Hales, a close friend of Ballance in his England days, named his dog Kevin for that reason.

“This is a problem up and down the country,” he adds. Hope that people are not going to be discredited and smeared about.

In a series of Interviews in 2020, Rafiq talked about his two-year stint with Yorkshire and the racist experiences he had. The ongoing investigation is pertaining the same after Yorkshire Club took cognizance of the serious allegations made by the 30-year-old.

About the author

Gurpreet Singh

Gurpreet Singh


Gurpreet Singh is a Cricket writer at The Sportsrush. His platonic relationship with sports had always been there since childhood, but Cricket managed to strike a special, intimate nerve of his heart. Although his initial dream of playing the sport at the highest level couldn't come to fruition, Gurpreet did represent the state of Jharkhand at the under-14 level. However, almost like taking a pledge to never let the undying passion for Cricket fade away even a tad, he made sure to continue the love relationship by assigning the field of journalism as an indirect Cupid. He thus, first finished his bachelor's in journalism and then pursued the PG Diploma course in English journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC). Soon after and since 2019, he has been working at The Sportsrush. Apart from sports, he takes keen interest in politics, and in understanding women and gender-related issues.

Read more from Gurpreet Singh

Share this article