Lord Kamlesh Patel has announced he will step down as Yorkshire chair at the club’s next Annual General Meeting in March.
Lord Patel, who took over from Roger Hutton in November 2021 at the height of the club’s racism crisis, endured a turbulent tenure that began amid the suspension of Headingley’s international hosting rights and the withdrawal of a raft of sponsors that left the club facing bankruptcy.
However, despite enduring significant opposition from within the club membership – notably from a group led by the former chair, Robin Smith – Patel instigated a series of reforms during his tenure that focused on equality, diversity and inclusion, such as improved processes for whistleblowers to report discrimination.
By reducing cost barriers within Yorkshire’s Pathway programme – including free kit and coaching for boy’s and girl’s regional cricket – the club has also seen an upturn in participation and diversity on his watch.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to work for such a prestigious organisation,” Patel said in a statement issued by Yorkshire. “I have made the difficult decision to step aside at the next AGM and enable the club to continue on its important journey of change under a new chair.
“I would like to thank those members who have been hugely supportive of the changes that the board have introduced at Headingley. I would also like to thank the staff and board members who have all worked tirelessly during what has been a transformational period in Yorkshire’s history.
“There is still much for the club to do, but I have the strongest faith that Yorkshire will be back at the pinnacle of English cricket for the long-term.”
Further measures undertaken during Patel’s tenure include the provision of a more inclusive atmosphere for matchdays at Headingley, Scarborough and York, with more family-friendly alcohol-free areas and sensory rooms.
“If I was an individual who wasn’t a member of the House of Lords and hadn’t had any sort of leadership experience, you would walk away,” he told MPs.
“I don’t know how Azeem gets the strength to carry on. You would just run. In the public eye, we get flak [but] this is relentless. And this is from an area where you don’t expect it – this is sport, for God’s sake.
“Individuals who have just been [making] a concerted attack, I do not think people understand, I don’t think the ECB has got it.”
Following the announcement of Lord Patel’s departures, Stephen Vaughan, Yorkshire’s chief executive, said: “Kamlesh should be extremely proud of what he has achieved at Headingley during his tenure as chair.
“The structures that have been put in place are vital in ensuring that Yorkshire is a club that people are proud to be associated with.
“Equality, diversity and inclusivity are at the heart of our club and I am excited to work with the board, executive team and new chair to continue on this journey of meaningful change.”