Former Yorkshire captain Azeem Rafiq, who blew the whistle on “institutional racism” in cricket, spoke of his own antisemitic remarks when he was guest speaker at the Belmont and Edgeware club’s big fundraiser.

Members raised almost £2,000 to keep their cricket club in Mill Hill going through the cost-of-living crisis.

The evening included a discussion with Azeem about his whistleblowing and dealing with his own antisemitic comments on Facebook when he was a teenager.

The Pakistan-born 32-year-old off-spin bowler was interviewed by compere Nigel Rothband at the Jewish club’s Camdenians home ground in Burtonhole Lane.

He spoke about becoming captain of the England under-15 and under-19 sides, then encountering prejudice at Yorkshire.  

Rafiq retired from the sport in 2018 and came into the spotlight in 2021 after accusing his former Yorkshire club of institutional racism. 

But a subsequent inquiry following his whistleblowing took a nasty turn when it emerged he had made antisemitic comments of his own in Facebook messages in 2011 when he was 19, reported in the national press two years ago.

Rafiq was ashamed and felt angry with himself, he later said in an interview with the Jewish News. He said at the time: “All I can do is show that I’m sorry and take time to understand and educate myself. I hope the Jewish community can forgive me."

Azeem’s apology was accepted by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Community Security Trust. 

He has made “life-long friends” in the community in the 18 months since, even travelling to the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland to meet Holocaust survivors and visiting synagogues and the Jewish Museum, the Mill Hill club’s fundraising event heard. 

“I’m glad I’ve been able to play a part in helping the club raise some much-needed funds,” Azem said afterwards. 

Azeem reflected on the state of modern-day cricket and ways to make it “more inclusive for minority communities”. 

Prizes and auction items at the fundraising evening included a bat signed by England and India national teams, a signed Brazil World Cup shirt and autographed memorabilia of Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Donald Bradman and Shane Warne.

It sadly followed Belmont and Edgware starting their 2023 campaign losing to Norfolk’s White Walkers side.

Some quick wickets brought together Belmont’s Daniel Humphrey and Greg Mayer for a 100-run partnership, but Belmont lost by 83 runs.