Yorkshire have announced that Lord Kamlesh Patel is to step down as chair in March after a wildly dramatic and sometimes controversial 16 months in the role. Patel, who was appointed in November 2021, reshaped the club’s governance in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s revelations of racial abuse while at Yorkshire. He also secured the return of both international cricket and commercial sponsors, seeing off the potentially disastrous possibility that the club might permanently lose them as a result of their poor initial response to the scandal.
Lord Patel’s decision throws the future of the county back into uncertainty, though he will continue to oversee their response to Cricket Discipline Commission charges relating to accusations of racism. “I have achieved most of the things I came in to achieve but, in doing so, I have attracted some fierce criticism,” he said. “My hope is that when I go, I will take the criticism with me and the new management at the club will be able to move forward without any of that baggage.”
His time in Yorkshire has been marked by often hostile reporting from the Yorkshire Post, and what he described as attempts to “delay and derail essential reforms” by a group of high-profile critics led by the former chair Robin Smith. Under his stewardship the club has made it easier for whistleblowers to report discrimination, improved governance processes, appointed a new and more diverse board and made matchdays more inclusive, including the introduction of more alcohol-free areas.
Lord Patel, who rejected the role twice before his appointment, appeared in front of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee last month, where he described a “sobering year”.
“Yorkshire has just begun the journey. We are on a long journey and a lot of people are going to have to get off the bus along the way,” he said. Having criticised at the DCMS committee a lack of support from the England & Wales Cricket Board, on Friday he said he was “surprised and disappointed” that they again failed to contact him after it.
“Kamlesh should be extremely proud of what he has achieved at Headingley during his tenure as chair,” said Stephen Vaughan, who was appointed as CEO last November. “The structures that have been put in place are vital in ensuring that Yorkshire is a club that people are proud to be associated with. Equality, diversity and inclusivity are at the heart of our club and I am excited to … continue on this journey of meaningful change.”