Zoheb Sharif recounts experiences of racism at Essex: It was normal to be called curry muncher

Sharif's allegations come less than 48 hours after John Farragher stood down as chairman at Chelmsford over an alleged racist remark made during a 2017 board meeting


Former Essex batsman Zoheb Sharif has claimed he was on the receiving end of racist abuse during his time at the club, saying he was nicknamed "Bomber" the day after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Sharif's allegations come less than 48 hours after John Faragher stood down as chairman at Chelmsford over an alleged racist remark made during a 2017 board meeting. 

And after Essex confirmed on Friday that a second incident was being investigated, the Mirror named Sharif as the former player involved.

The 38-year-old told the newspaper that he had been encouraged to speak out about the incident by Azeem Rafiq, whose pursuit of accountability over his own experiences at Yorkshire has led to the resignation of the club's former chairman and chief executive.

"I didn’t say anything at the time. I was a teenager in a dressing room with big characters. 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," Sharif said.

"It was a day after the September 11 attacks. People started calling me Bomber. It was normal to be called 'curry muncher”'

"As a Muslim, I’d find a quiet outfield corner to pray. A senior player told me ‘it looks bad’. So I prayed in my car."


Essex are investigating two allegations of racism made at the club in the 21st century

Sharif made four County Championship appearances for the club.

In a statement on Friday, Essex chief executive John Stephenson said both this incident and the matter involving Faragher would be "investigated thoroughly and urgently".

The statement read: "I am extremely shocked and saddened to hear of historic racial allegations involving a former player, dating back to 2001. There is absolutely no place for discrimination of any kind at Essex County Cricket Club and we have a zero-tolerance policy towards racism," he said in a statement on November 13.

"I immediately reached out to the former player to offer him my and Essex CCC’s full support and to encourage him to come forward and talk to myself and the club about his experiences. We will put the right care in place for him and we applaud his bravery and courage for speaking out on such a sensitive issue after all these years.

"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 ECB 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 CCC."

Rafiq will appear in front of a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday to address his experiences at Yorkshire.

The former offspinner is expected to give a full and frank account of his time at the club.

Roger Hutton, the ex-Yorkshire chairman who resigned earlier this month, is expected to give testimony to the DCMS select committee.

However, The Cricketer understands that none of former chief executive Mark Arhur, current direct of cricket Martyn Moxon, or director of medical services Wayne Morton - all of whom had been invited to answer questions from MPs - will be attending the hearing.

The ECB will be represented by chief executive Tom Harrison, interim chair Barry O'Brien, and director of communications Kate Miller.


Essex chairman John Faragher resigns




STAY UP TO DATE Sign up to our newsletter...

Thank You! Thank you for subscribing!

Units 7-8, 35-37 High St, Barrow upon Soar, Loughborough, LE128PY


Welcome to www.thecricketer.com - the online home of the world’s oldest cricket magazine. Breaking news, interviews, opinion and cricket goodness from every corner of our beautiful sport, from village green to national arena.