Lahore Qalandars.
A player exchange program is part of Yorkshire's partnership with Lahore Qalandars.

Yorkshire has signed a deal with Lahore Qalandars, a Pakistan Super League franchise that has recently been accused of racism.

There is a player exchange scheme in place at Yorkshire following a recent racism issue at the English club, which was confirmed on Tuesday by the club. Azeem Rafiq, a Pakistani-born ex-Yorkshire footballer, has accused the county of neglecting to thoroughly investigate his claims of abuse while he was a member of the team. In November, the club’s chairman and CEO departed, followed by the entire coaching staff earlier this month.

The Qalandars’ player development program, which provides opportunities and equipment to more than 150 young players, has been criticized by Yorkshire, who have been accused of failing to nurture local cricketers of South Asian descent on their doorstep. Yorkshire said the new partnership was an opportunity to “learn from and emulate” the Qalandars’ player development program.

As part of an international player exchange program, Pakistan fast bowler Haris Rauf will join Yorkshire as an overseas player for part of the 2015 season.

There will be scholarships available for Yorkshire cricketers to play in Lahore, Pakistan, and there will be possibilities for Pakistani cricketers to come to the UK.

Yorkshire will also play a friendly against the Qalanders on January 16 at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.

It is intended that the alliance will help establish a county “that is friendly and supportive to everybody,” according to the new chairman of Yorkshire, Kamlesh Patel.

Lahore Qalandars’ work on and off the cricket field may serve as a model for clubs around the world, including our own, in spotting, nurturing, and supporting talent at all levels of cricket,” he said. “It’s a model that we can all learn from.”

Rauf, who has represented Pakistan in one-day and Twenty20 cricket, was welcomed with open arms by interim director of cricket Darren Gough, who expressed his delight at the prospect of working with him in the player development program.

According to the ex-Yorkshire and England fast bowler, “for many people from a background like my own, cricket isn’t considered as an option because of the related fees and access to facilities.”

Qalandars have built a template that has been a success and this relationship gives us the opportunity to help them define how that blueprint can be utilized to bring in new players from around Yorkshire.”

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