Perhaps there is now the opportunity to tackle the issue at hand.

Eighteen months after Azeem Rafiq told MPs that English cricket is “institutionally racist”, a verdict on charges brought about in relation to Rafiq’s experiences at Yorkshire has been delivered.

For various reasons, not least the lengthy period of time taken to get to this point, the Cricket Disciplinary Commission hearing effectively became the public trial of English cricket’s racism issue.

In reality, it descended into a circus of claim and counter-claim, non-cooperation and questions over the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) simultaneous role as regulator and investigator.

That is not to say a disciplinary process is not without merit. Victims and alleged victims should be given the opportunity at justice, the accused a chance to defend themselves, wrongdoing punished.

But, in this instance, the protracted battle has only deepened division. Social media bile, newspapers, websites and magazines taking sides, lives put on hold and torn apart.

Given the polarising nature of the whole affair, the verdict itself is unlikely to change opposing views, which have long become entrenched.

The bare facts are some of the charges against former Yorkshire players Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Gale, Tim Bresnan, Richard Pyrah and John Blain were upheld. All five had either withdrawn from participating or refused to take part in the process, citing a lack of faith in getting a fair hearing.

Ex-Yorkshire batter Gary Ballance had already accepted charges and is rebuilding a playing career in his native Zimbabwe.

Yorkshire themselves had also admitted culpability and the future of one of English cricket’s biggest counties remains uncertain. With sanctions still to be announced, they could be facing a hefty points deduction or a fine that will add to a perilous financial position.

The only respondent to offer a defence, Michael Vaughan, saw the charge against him unproven. Because of his profile as one of the most influential England captains of all time and an outspoken pundit, the spotlight of the case has fallen on Vaughan. Headlines, including that of the BBC, put the onus on his verdict, rather than that of the others.

Throughout the whole saga, right up to today, Rafiq has been consistent in stating that the focus should not have been on specific individuals.

And yet we were left in the situation of a three-person disciplinary panel being asked to decide whether or not Vaughan said “there is too many of you lot” to Rafiq and three other Asian team-mates almost 14 years ago.

In clearing Vaughan, the panel said its findings do not “undermine” assertions made by Rafiq, while Vaughan himself said “it takes nothing away from Azeem’s lived experience”.

Both Vaughan and Rafiq expressed their desire for cricket to move forward, identify its problems and implement change – it should be noted that on the day English cricket was delivering its disciplinary verdict, Scottish Cricket’s chair Anjan Luthra resigned over a row about the speed of progress in tackling racism.

While the English game has been preoccupied with the Yorkshire hearings, other key landmarks on the road out of the racism saga keep being pushed beyond the horizon.

A review into dressing-room culture, due at the end of last season, is still to be seen less than a week before the start of the new season.

The report by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, expected to be bruising not only with regard to racism, but also on topics of sexism, misogyny and class was slated for the beginning of the year but is yet to see the light of day.

Even if we are still to learn the full extent of cricket’s problem with inclusion, what we can say for certain is that discrimination of all forms exists in society – and sport’s issues are merely a reflection of what regrettably occurs every day, in all walks of life.

Cricket is not alone, either. Barely a weekend goes by without a footballer being racially abused on social media. Welsh rugby is dealing with accusations of sexism. Just last night, Aboriginal Australian Football League player Jamarra Ugle-Hagan lifted his shirt and pointed to his skin in response to a string of racism scandals in the sport.

There are countless positive actions taking place in English cricket, too – an Iftar event at Lord’s, Warwickshire holding coaching sessions at a mosque and the groundbreaking ACE programme to name a few.

But it doesn’t need much digging to see just how far the game needs to travel to be truly representative.

The last time the England Test side handed a debut to a British-born black man was in 2010. There are just four non-white women to have ever played for England in any format.

This is the elite part of the game. Further down, where ordinary people want to enjoy cricket as a hobby and passion, the ramifications of the racism row and effect of the supposed remedies will not be known for some time to come.

Hurt and upset could extend to the only non-white member of a Saturday league club, or the all-Asian team that struggle to find a ground to host their matches, who then decide that maybe cricket isn’t the sport for them.

It is fair to accept that there is a limit to what the ECB can do in the fight against discrimination. While, of course, the governing body should take the lead, it is the responsibility of everyone connected with the game to ensure it is inclusive.

We often hear about the need for change, but it is hard to say exactly what change would look like.

In the quest for diversity, inclusivity and acceptance of all things – race, gender, sexuality and many more – how do we know when success has been achieved?

The reality is we might never know.

Even if there is fair representation of each aspect of society in every part of the game’s top level – players, coaches, officials and administrators – there will always remain the clubs, teams, supporters and children, so vast in number it would be impossible to know if they all feel welcome, that cricket truly is a sport for all.

Then again, maybe success would be not needing to ask.

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