Michael Vaughan: Racism allegations in Yorkshire cricket are a “bad picture for the game

The disciplinary inquiry investigating the charges of racism at Yorkshire, according to former England captain Michael Vaughan, is a “bad look” for cricket.

Azeem Rafiq and three other Asian players are said to have heard Vaughan say, “There’s too many of you lot, we need to have a discussion about it,” before a T20 encounter in Yorkshire in 2009.

The claim has been “totally and absolutely” refuted by Vaughan, who reiterated this position when testifying for the first time during the hearing on Friday.

Although he resigned in 2009, the former Yorkshire captain did issue an apology for certain “disgusting” old tweets that were first brought to his attention in a 2021 BBC interview.

The ECB, who filed the accusations against Vaughan, through their attorney Jane Mulcahy KC, claimed the “tweets are extremely similar in tone to the allegation”; Vaughan refuted this claim.

In November 2021, Vaughan, 48, saw Rafiq because “the whole matter was spiraling out of control,” he claimed, criticizing the two and a half year procedure.

Recap: Vaughan provides testimony in the Yorkshire Cricket Racism Hearing
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Bresnan hurled a racist insult on Rafiq’s sister, according to a race hearing.
In that meeting, Vaughan claimed he expressed his regret to Rafiq for the pain the former spinner had endured at Yorkshire, but he denied making the alleged remark.

On Friday, Vaughan reiterated his denial, stating, “I can’t apologize for something I don’t recollect saying.”

Rafiq claimed on Thursday that he felt “naive” as a result of Vaughan’s conduct during their meeting.

“It’s not been easy for anybody,” said Vaughan, under cross-examination by Mulcahy.

“This is not the proper procedure to handle remarks made 14 years ago that used words against each other.

“Ex-teammates fighting over hearsay is a terrible look for the game and a really awful look on how cricket has handled this problem,” said a cricket official.

During the hearing, Vaughan makes a “Question of Sport” joke.
Yorkshire had pled guilty to four modified allegations from the ECB prior to this week’s proceedings, which also included the county’s admission that it failed to address the club’s “systemic use of racist or discriminatory language” over a protracted time, including Rafiq’s career.

Former Yorkshire and England bowler Matthew Hoggard, a teammate of Vaughan’s, has acknowledged using a phrase unacceptable in South Africa and a racial slur related to someone of Pakistani descent while at the club.

Vaughan always denied hearing such racial epithets while studying at Yorkshire.

It’s like Question of Sport, this, Vaughan said in jest when asked to provide specifics about how long he had played alongside Hoggard for both Yorkshire and England.

After retiring in 2009, the former batter began working as a BBC pundit, and he claimed to have a “very clear mind” of the match in issue against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on June 22, 2009.

He claimed he “knows” he didn’t say what he was accused of saying to Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad, and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan because he was “happy” that Yorkshire had four Asian players in the same lineup for the first time ever, which demonstrated how far the county had progressed.

Rafiq’s claim has been confirmed by England spinner Rashid and former Yorkshire and Pakistani bowler Naved-ul-Hasan.

Former England bowler Shahzad, who is the fourth member of the team, claims he has no memory of the incident.

Although he acknowledged the alleged remark was improper and racist, Vaughan insisted he did not make it, in part because doing so might have had a negative impact on his team members’ morale and performance.

Vaughan continued, “I make sure individuals are loved.

Moreover, Vaughan denied making the claimed remark in jest.

When Mulcahy brought up some of Vaughan’s earlier tweets, which included allusions to foreign contact center workers and the proportion of English residents in London, he agreed that Rafiq would find them insulting.

In order to “be a leader in the game,” he claimed, he participated in an online diversity course while working in Australia on the 2021–22 Ashes.

Rafiq is charged with using the “race card.”
Azeem Rafiq spoke at the hearing this week.
Azeem Rafiq spoke at the hearing this week.
Rafiq’s personal development manager at the Professional Cricketers’ Association, Matthew Wood, accused him of saying he was willing to play the “race card” for personal advantage (PCA).

Wood said in his witness statement that during a meeting with Yorkshire in August 2018, Rafiq threatened to “attack them with the racial card” if they did not extend him a new contract.

Rafiq allegedly “used being Asian” to secure a spot on an ECB coaching course despite missing the application deadline, according to Wood.

Rafiq “didn’t play the race card,” according to Mulcahy, which is why Wood left out the “race card” allegation from his initial interview with the original Yorkshire investigation.

In addition, Wood’s claim that the coaching course conversation was discussed was described as “strange” in Rafiq’s witness statement.

Wood claimed that he chose not to bring up the subject because “it was such a hot” scenario, but he later called the law firm to transmit the “race card” points and to inform them of the remarks.

Mulcahy indicated that Wood was “at pains” to help Vaughan in these proceedings “no matter what” and questioned why he “went behind” Rafiq’s back.

Wood stated he disagreed and that he “wasn’t on anybody’s side”.

ECB supports the investigation
Meena Botros, the director of legal and integrity for the ECB, who was in charge of the organization’s inquiry into the accusations against Yorkshire, was one of the witnesses questioned on Friday.

When Vaughan is alleged to have made the “you lot” remark in 2009, his attorney, Christopher Stoner KC, criticized the ECB’s handling of the probe and questioned why it did not speak to everyone present in and around the Yorkshire team huddle.

Stoner questioned the ECB’s decision to avoid talking to the two umpires, the Sky cameraman who was filming the squad meeting, and several of the other Yorkshire players who were on the team that day.

According to Sky film, they “weren’t close to the huddle,” and no one has argued that the umpires were close enough to hear it, according to Botros.

Also, there was “no suggestion” that the cameraman heard anything; it was “assumed” that he would have been using headphones.

Botros claimed that some players’ contact information “weren’t available” and that others either didn’t want to participate or had “very clearly stated” their positions.

If you think it’s such an important point, that might have been brought up, he said, adding that he was “not aware” of Vaughan’s legal team pursuing these lines of inquiry.

The hearing will go on until March 9.

The ECB’s cases against former Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale and former bowling coach Richard Pyrah, who both withdrew from the proceeding, have not yet been heard by the panel.

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