David Lloyd is close to being confirmed as a commentator for Talksport radio after ending his 22-year role with Sky Sports following “closet racist” accusations raised by Azeem Rafiq.
Industry sources say the News Corp-owned station swooped for “Bumble” after he announced last month that “the time is now right” to move on. His departure from Sky came four weeks after the broadcaster confirmed it was investigating Rafiq’s claims.
Rafiq has privately offered the former England head coach his sympathy over his departure, with friends of the former Yorkshire spinner insisting “he had not intended for this to happen”.
Talksport recently expanded its international cricket coverage to air India’s Test series against New Zealand and will see the signing of the 74-year-old as a coup. For Sky, Lloyd had been a popular fixture in the commentary box for England Test and one-day matches since 1999, and played a key role in the launch of Twenty20 cricket.
Fallout from the Rafiq furore, meanwhile, will intensify again this month when the England and Wales Cricket Board face criticism from MPs shortly after the fifth Ashes Test is over.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is understood to be close to finalising its report sparked by failures around Rafiq investigations last year. Subject to final inquiries with key county executives, the cross-party parliamentary group is likely to publish full findings by January 20, Telegraph Sport understands.
The ECB and Yorkshire are expected to face the most severe criticism, but other counties are also expected to be scrutinised after Rafiq’s evidence prompted other players to come forward.
During bombshell evidence to the committee in November, Rafiq broke down in tears as he described racism, bullying and “inhuman” treatment he faced at Yorkshire cricket..
Over nearly two hours of devastating testimony, he delivered a damning verdict on the culture of English cricket, agreeing it was “institutionally racist”. The hearing also prompted an apology from Lloyd Rafiq told MPs he had allegedly tried to smear him.
“High-profile media people messaging other members of the media who supported me saying stuff like, ‘The clubhouses are the lifeblood of a club and Asian players don’t go in there’, ‘Getting subs out of Asian players is like getting blood out of stone’,” said Rafiq.
Sky said six weeks ago that it was investigating messages, but, following his departure, the broadcaster refused to detail what action had been taken against Lloyd. Sky instead said in a statement that he was “much loved and respected”. Bumble also made no reference to the furore in his announcement.
A 57-page witness statement, part of Rafiq’s submission to an employment tribunal and published by the DCMS select committee, also went into excruciating detail, making allegations against Tim Bresnan, Matthew Hoggard, Gary Ballance and the former Yorkshire coach and captain Andrew Gale.
At Yorkshire, the furore has already seen a clearout of club staff. There have been 16 sackings in total, including director of cricket Martyn Moxon, who had been signed off sick with stress, and head coach Gale, suspended over a historic anti-Semitic Twitter post.
However, some players at the club are said to be furious at what they deemed an indiscriminate cull, one that could nevertheless help lift the ban on the club staging England matches and lure back key sponsors.
Former chairman, Roger Hutton, has previously accepted Yorkshire were guilty of institutional racism following their handling of an investigation into Rafiq’s complaints he had been repeatedly abused while there. Essex and a host of other clubs have since faced allegations of discrimination. Since the allegations were made, Rafiq has separately apologised for making historic anti-Semitic remarks on social media.