Ex-cricket player ‘was nicknamed the Bomber after 9/11…they saw it as banter’

Cricket’s racism scandal deepens today as a player claims he was nicknamed Bomber by team-mates the day after the 9/11 attacks.

Muslim Zoheb Sharif alleges he was also called “curry muncher” while playing for Essex.

His allegations emerge following racism revelations by ex-Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq that led to the club losing sponsors and the right to host Tests.

On Friday Essex chair John Faragher resigned after an allegation he used racist language at a board meeting in 2017, which he strongly denies.

Zoheb, 38, said he was speaking out because he could see “many parallels” between the Rafiq case at Yorkshire and what he had been through. He said: “Azim has shone a light on what’s been going on.

“I didn’t say anything at the time. I was a teenager in a dressing room with big characters. To them it was banter. To me it wasn’t, but you don’t want to do anything to block your chance of getting into the first team.”

Zoheb was born in Leytonstone , East London, to parents from Pakistan.

He started playing for Essex at eight and made his first-team debut against Yorkshire in 2001.

He said: “It was a day after the September 11 attacks. People started calling me Bomber. It was normal to be called “curry muncher”.

“As a Muslim, I’d find a quiet outfield corner to pray. A senior player told me ‘it looks bad’. So I prayed in my car.”

Zoheb only played four first team games despite being a star in the seconds, averaging 101 runs and taking 20 wickets in 2004.

He said: “A committee member told me ‘No matter what you do you will not play first team. It would be best if you found another county’.

“It feels like my dream of playing for England one day was taken from me because of my skin.”

Essex chief John Stephenson said: “I am shocked to hear of racial allegations involving a former player.

“Essex County CC has zero tolerance of racism. I have reached out to him to offer our support and to talk to us about his experiences.”

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