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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Maurice Chambers claims racist bullying at Essex included banana and monkey taunts

Former England Lions seamer Maurice Chambers has become the latest ex-cricketer to publicly accuse his old team-mates and coaches of racist bullying.

Chambers told The Cricketer he was called a “f—— monkey”, taunted with bananas and forced to listen to discriminatory jokes while playing for Essex, who are now facing multiple allegations as part of the sport’s growing racism scandal.

The 34-year-old, who was born in Jamaica, said his abuse had been so humiliating that he would go home and cry.

Northamptonshire were also dragged into the scandal after Chambers said that, while he was playing there, someone had openly sung along to rap music featuring the ‘n’ word.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said it was “appalled” by the conduct described by Chambers and would investigate alongside other allegations to have engulfed Essex.

Recalling a team night out while sharing a house for a few weeks with another player, Chambers said: “The other player got pretty drunk. When I got home, he threw a banana down the stairs and said: ‘Climb for it, you f—— monkey.’ ”

Chambers said the other player was forced to apologise to him after his mother reported the incident but he was still made to live with his abuser for a while longer.

Chambers said he was repeatedly taunted with bananas by a senior team-mate in front of a coach who would respond by laughing.

He added: “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.”

Chambers said a coach had mocked him and another player of Afro-Caribbean heritage for fumbling the ball and had read out racist jokes in the dressing room.

“It would have been nice if some of my team-mates had intervened to say, ‘This isn’t right’, but it never happened,” he added. Chambers said he first recalled “being made to feel different” aged around 15 when someone turned out the lights in the dressing room and he was told: “We can’t see you.”

He said that, apart from the complaint from him mother, he stayed silent about his ordeal for fear of “being seen as a troublemaker” or risking a new contract.

He added: “That’s why it feels so important to speak now. I’ve been inspired by the example of Azeem Rafiq and I want other players to have the courage to speak up and share their experiences. Only by letting people know about the things that have being going on can we bring about change. I don’t want any money, or anything like that. I just don’t want anyone to go through what I did. I think we need to have a zero tolerance attitude to racism.”

An ECB spokesperson said: “The ECB is appalled by the behaviour that Maurice Chambers has described, of which no person should ever have to endure. There is absolutely no room for racism in cricket.

“We are sorry that Maurice has only been able to feel comfortable to speak out after his playing career had ended and as a game we must ensure that cannot prevail. We will be investigating this alongside the other allegations at Essex and applaud Maurice for his bravery in coming forward.”

Essex chief executive John Stephenson said he was “extremely disappointed” to issue his third statement in four days in response to allegations that have come to light.

Chairman John Faragher quit on Friday following claims – which he denies – that he used the phrase “n—– in the woodpile” during a meeting in 2017.

The club later announced they were investigating accusations from Zoheb Sharif, 38, that he was called “bomber” and “curry muncher” while at the club.

Stephenson said the latest claims involved individuals no longer at Essex but said they would be investigated “rigorously”.

He added: “After learning of the allegations last night, I instantly contacted the former player to offer the club’s full support. He has shown immense bravery in coming forward and in speaking with us about the incidents he describes. I appreciate how difficult this must be for him.”
 
Northamptonshire said in a statement: “The club is disappointed to hear of Maurice’s experience and this clearly goes against the expectation we hold for all Northamptonshire players and staff.

“We welcome the opportunity to talk directly with Maurice and any past player about their time with Northamptonshire and encourage them to reach out.”

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