Was called 'bomber', 'curry muncher': Ex-Essex cricketer Zoheb Sharif makes racism allegations against club

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Nov 16, 2021, 04:57 PM(IST)

Former Essex cricketer Sharif has opened up on facing racism at the club. | Photo courtsey - @EssexCricket | Photograph:( Twitter )

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Former Essex cricketer Zoheb Sharif has alleged he was subjected to racial abuse at the club during his playing days and was called a 'bomber' by some of his teammates.

Former Essex cricketer Zoheb Sharif has opened up on facing racial and Islamophobic abuse during his stint with the English county club. Sharif recently revealed he was called a 'bomber' by some of his teammates during his playing days with the club while later also being addressed as a 'curry muncher'. Sharif's allegations come in the wake of English county clubs getting engulfed in racism scandals.

Sharif had joined Essex at the age of 8 and went on to play four first-class matches for the County club. However, the 38-year-old believes the horrific racial abuse at the club robbed him of what could have been a promising cricket career. 

He revealed he had made his first-class debut for the club a day after the infamous 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 and was straight away given the nickname 'bomber' by some of his teammates because of his faith.

"I made my debut a day after the September 11th attacks and as soon as I joined the team I was called 'bomber' as a nickname which stuck," Sharif told Sky News in an interview.

"I was always referred to as a 'bomber'. This then developed into a 'curry muncher'," he added.

Sharif, a promising batter back in the day, was told by his senior at Essex that he won't get to play for the first team no matter what. Despite being one of the best performers in one of the seasons, he was not promoted to the first team and didn't get a chance to play. 'You will never play in the first team' - was the only reason ever given to him for his non-selection, alleged the former Essex cricketer.

"I was told 'No matter what you do, you will never, ever play in the first team.' But I was like, 'I'm doing so well, I was like highest run-scorer in the whole country, why can't I even get a look in?' They said: 'No matter how you do, you will never play'," Sharif recalled.

"I remember sitting down towards the end of the season where I performed really well - I think the next best person was averaging in the 30s and I was in the 100s - and the only official reason I ever got was - 'You will never play in the first team'," he added.

Also Read: Adil Rashid confirms Michael Vaughan questioning number of players of Asian heritage at Yorkshire

I was not allowed to pray at Essex: Zoheb Sharif 

Sharif, a Muslim, alleged he was not allowed to pray on the ground near his teammates during his time at Essex and he had to use his care for his prayers. The former cricketer recalled how a senior figure at the club told him he can't pray in front of everyone.

"I wasn't allowed to pray. Sometimes I would find a place to pray in the corner of the ground away from everyone," said Sharif.

"I remember a senior figure taking me to the side and saying: 'You can't do that in front of everyone. You've got to do that away from everyone'," he added.

Essex chairman John Faragher resigned on Friday last week following Sharif's startling revelations and allegations of racism at the club. The new chief executive of the club John Stephenson said he was extremely disappointed to learn about the disturbing experiences faced by former players of the club in the past. The club has assured investigation into the allegations of Sharif.

Also Read: Virat Kohli lands in trouble after his restaurant accused of discrimination against LGBTQIA community

Sharif's allegations come after former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq shared disturbing details of racial abuse faced by him during his time at the club. Rafiq had also accused former England captain Michael Vaughan of his involvement in racism at the club and has been backed by current England spinner Adil Rashid.

Rafiq will present evidence in front of a select committee during a hearing this week. Earlier, the England Cricket Board had suspended Yorkshire for hosting international cricket or any major matches over the club's failure to properly investigate the racism allegations by Rafiq.


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