LAST month, it was revealed that a group of Yorkshire County Cricket Club staff had sent a letter to the board, complaining vociferously that the club had failed to stand up to Azeem Rafiq in the wake of his seismic allegations of institutional racism against the county.

In it, the staff called him “problematic” and referenced his “extremely hurtful one-man mission to bring down the club and with it, people of genuine integrity”.

The thing is, it’s fine for people to dislike Rafiq or view him as a troublemaker, but that doesn’t make it okay for them to exhibit racist behaviour towards him.

And here lies my huge problem with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Every single step of this lengthy investigation, they have consistently made fools of themselves, and made an already fraught situation even worse.

Take their club statement on October 26, which read: “The Yorkshire County Cricket Club is pleased to announce the actions it has taken since they received the Report prepared by the Independent Panel in August this year.”

Later, it said: “The Club has also carried out their own internal investigation... and are able to report that they have come to the conclusion that there is no conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or Executives that warrants disciplinary action.”

What on earth is there to be “pleased” about here Yorkshire? And as for the no disciplinary action taken against employees, that unsurprisingly fell apart quickly.

Head coach Andrew Gale is currently suspended from the club due to an anti-Semitic tweet he sent a decade or so ago.

Discriminatory abuse like that is unacceptable, and Rafiq himself was rightfully called out for social media posts of a similar ilk at around the same time.

But given how long ago it was, and how it appeared to be an isolated tweet, surely a better course of action would be to send Gale on a racial awareness course, rather than standing him down from his job?

But of course, we must not forget the accusations against Gale at the DCMS hearing into Rafiq’s case on November 16.

Rafiq referenced multiple occasions when Gale supposedly tore into him, including one in 2012, when after questioning field positions, he was reportedly told: “Who the f*** do you think you are? You do as you’re told.”

Rafiq said he and Adil Rashid often felt humiliated by Gale the captain and Gale the coach, in a way the white players at the club allegedly were not.

If even half of what Rafiq has said turns out to be true, how can Gale possibly have a future at Yorkshire?

And what of director of cricket Martyn Moxon? He is currently absent from the club with “a stress-related illness”, and on that, I wish him all the best.

But that does not absolve him of blame. Take his supposed anger at Rafiq for the spinner’s lack of communication with the club in 2018, despite him having to face the trauma of a stillborn child, for example.

Moxon allegedly “ripped the shreds” off Rafiq in their first meeting after the incident, which is sickening if true, given Rafiq and his wife had just had the most traumatic experience a parent could have.

Rafiq said the then chief executive of Yorkshire, Mark Arthur, did not support him either in that dreadful period of his life, in which both he and his wife came close to committing suicide.

He has repeatedly called for Arthur and Moxon to resign, and while the former did leave the club last month, his parting statement was laughable.

Not once was the Rafiq situation addressed, and instead he chose to simply list his achievements at the club.

It was unacceptable that neither Arthur nor Moxon attended that critical DCMS hearing last month, with it instead left to outgoing chairman Roger Hutton, who wasn’t even at the club when Rafiq was there, to be Yorkshire’s representative.

His testimony was nowhere near as explosive as Rafiq’s, but the fact he called the club “institutionally racist” in front of MPs was damning enough.

And what of Gary Ballance, who played the “friendly verbal attack” card when he admitted he had called Rafiq a “P**i” on more than one occasion?

I’ll confess I actually felt a little sorry for the Zimbabwean when he released his initial statement, which seemed contrite enough over his actions towards a supposed “best mate”.

But Rafiq tore into him at the DCMS hearing, confirming that friendship ended a long time ago, and saying that Ballance often made humiliating racist comments towards him in front of others.

The allegation that Ballance routinely called non-white players by a known racial slur suggests the former England Test batsman did not just taunt Rafiq either.

The spinner also claims that Ballance had substance abuse issues, with the club allegedly allowing him to miss drug tests.

Again, if all of this is true, Ballance should never play for Yorkshire again.

Rafiq is not perfect himself, and has owned up to some of his own grave mistakes in the past month.

But this is not about Azeem Rafiq. In recent weeks, other ex-Yorkshire players, and those from other counties, have come out and talked about systematic racism within the game, and their own suffering.

Which was probably all Rafiq wanted.

Yorkshire have made a move in the right direction by appointing Lord Kamlesh Patel as their new chairman, who has earned the respect of Rafiq by proactively beginning to tackle any “institutional racism” issues at the club, such as him initiating a whistleblower hotline to allow people to safely report discrimination

It is one small step from a historic institution that desperately needs to change, and not before time.