Former England captain Michael Vaughan has categorically denied an accusation of racism made against him by former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq; Vaughan issues fresh denial of wrongdoing; This article contains comments some readers may find upsetting
Tuesday 16 November 2021 06:54, UK
Adil Rashid has corroborated an accusation of racism against former England captain Michael Vaughan made by their former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.
Rafiq made allegations of institutional racism against Yorkshire, whom Vaughan formerly captained and Rashid still plays for.
Rafiq claimed that Vaughan said to a group of the team's Asian players that there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it" before a match in 2009.
Vaughan categorically denied Rafiq's allegation last week and issued a further statement when contacted by Sky Sports on Monday. He has also been stood down from his BBC 5 Live show.
Rashid, a key member of England's limited-overs squads and has been representing his country at the T20 World Cup, has now spoken about the case, which has already led to the resignations of Yorkshire chair Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur.
Rashid told The Cricketer. "I wanted to concentrate as much as possible on my cricket and to avoid distractions to the detriment of the team but I can confirm Azeem Rafiq's recollection of Michael Vaughan's comments to a group of us Asian players."
In response to Rashid's statement, Vaughan said on Monday: "I categorically deny saying the words attributed to me by Azeem Rafiq and want to re-state this publicly because the 'you lot' comment simply never happened."
Lord Kamlesh Patel, the Yorkshire chair, said: "I am aware of the recent statement from Adil Rashid, and I welcome his courage in speaking up at what is a difficult and distressing time for all those who love this club and the sport of cricket.
"It is essential that those who have experienced or witnessed racism, discrimination and abuse are able to come forward to share their experiences.
"I have been in touch with Adil personally today so that we can talk through the issues as soon as he is ready and able."
Rashid, who described racism as "a cancer", says he will be "happy to support" any further official investigations into Rafiq's claims. Rashid is the second of Rafiq's team-mates to support his allegation, with former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved ul-Hasan having also said he heard Vaughan's comment.
An independent report commissioned by Yorkshire found Rafiq was the victim of "racial harassment and bullying" during his two spells at the county, the first from 2008-2014 and the second from 2016-2018.
Yorkshire accepted the findings of the report but announced no disciplinary action would be taken against any employees.
The county have been widely criticised for its response, while the ECB suspended their right to host international and major matches at Headingley and a host of major sponsors cut ties with the club.
The government last week vowed to "step in" with "real action" if Yorkshire and the ECB failed to take what they consider to be appropriate measures.
Arthur and Hutton are among six individuals called to give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday, a session covered by parliamentary privilege that will begin with Rafiq's testimony.
Yorkshire first-team coach Andrew Gale has been suspended "pending a disciplinary hearing following a historical tweet", while the county have also announced director of cricket Martyn Moxon is absent from work due to a "stress-related illness".
Lord Patel said: "We welcome the formal meeting of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on sport governance, and I will be listening to the session with great interest to help us understand the past and address the many challenges which have come to light.
"It is right that the issues which were initially brought up by Azeem Rafiq, and the way in which they were handled, are properly examined by the Committee. We have provided the Committee with a copy of the full report, given its legal interest in the case.
"It is clear that we have handled this issue badly and the investigation was flawed. Azeem giving evidence is an important moment and, as a whistleblower, he should be praised for speaking up. I have said from the outset that we need to listen and to learn in order to create urgent change at Yorkshire Country Cricket Club".
"Racism is a cancer in all walks of life and unfortunately in professional sports too, and is something which of course has to be stamped out.
"I wanted to concentrate as much as possible on my cricket and to avoid distractions to the detriment of the team but I can confirm Azeem Rafiq's recollection of Michael Vaughan's comments to a group of us Asian players.
"I'm encouraged by the fact that a parliamentary committee seems to be trying to improve the situation, whether that's holding people accountable or getting changes made at an institutional level.
"These can only be positive developments. I will of course be more than happy to support any official efforts when the time is right. For now, though, these matters are of an intensely personal nature and I will not be commenting on them further. I ask you to respect my privacy and allow me to focus on my cricket.
"I want to thank the ECB, the fans and especially my teammates for all of their support. We didn't get the result we wanted in this World Cup, but I hope that the unity of our dressing room and the leadership of our captain will propel us forward to achieve what we deserve in the future."
"I categorically deny saying the words attributed to me by Azeem Rafiq and want to re-state this publicly because the 'you lot' comment simply never happened.
"Anyone who has viewed the Sky footage of Yorkshire's pre-match huddle at the game in question in June 2009, and the interaction between the players, would find it hard to reconcile those scenes with the version of events that has been presented.
"I remember the match clearly because it was the first time in Yorkshire's history that four players of Asian heritage had been selected in the same team. It was an important milestone for the county and it was also a moment of pride for me personally. At the time, I was a senior professional nearing the end of my career, but, having been the first non-Yorkshire born player signed by the county, it was also a sign of the progress that had been made during my time. I made a point of shaking all four players' hands that day because I recognised it was a significant moment.
"In 2009, only weeks later, I wrote enthusiastically about this specific match in my autobiography, saying: "This is going to be the shape of things to come for Yorkshire, as many of our most promising players come from the Asian community and it ought to be a good thing for our cricket".
"Given my view that the inclusion of Asian players in the Yorkshire team was a very positive and welcome development, it is inconceivable I would have made the derogatory comment attributed to me. It goes against everything that I have always believed; it goes against what I expressly said in my book only weeks later; and it goes against the Sky footage showing me specifically congratulating each of the players concerned.
"I have been lucky enough to enjoy a 30-year career in cricket, both as a player and a commentator, and I have never been accused of anything remotely similar. To be confronted with this allegation 11 years after it has supposed to have happened is the worst thing I have ever experienced.
"It is extremely upsetting that this completely false accusation has been made against me by a former teammate, apparently supported by two other players. For some time, Ajmal Shazad has been on record as saying that he never heard me say what has been suggested. I have been in contact with the six other players from that team and not one of them has any recollection of the remark being made.
"I fully accept that perspectives differ, and I have great sympathy for what Azeem Rafiq has gone through, but I hope everyone understands why I cannot allow this to go unchallenged or my reputation to be trashed unfairly."
John Holder is the only black British umpire in 150 years of Test cricket. He took legal action against the ECB earlier this year, alleging unfair dismissal on the grounds of racial discrimination after being dropped from the Test umpires panel in 1991.
Holder is not surprised by the recent racism scandal in cricket but says it remains a problem in all parts of society.
"The way it's been reported, you would think cricket has got a problem. This is a society problem. It is just in that dressing room atmosphere, cricket is a game where you spend far more hours together than football, rugby or any other team sport.
"What is happening really has been going on for a long time, to a greater or lesser extent from club to club. In society, non-white people get routinely abused, they get people making stupid comments about their colour.
"It is just that in cricket you have got a lot of people in a small environment over long periods of time. But it's not just a cricket problem."