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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Michael Vaughan ‘categorically’ denies racism allegations after Adil Rashid backs Azeem Rafiq claim

Vaughan went on to explain that “only weeks later” he had written “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,” he added. 

“It goes against everything that I have always  believed; it goes against what I said expressly 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 team-mate, apparently supported by two other players. 

“For some time, Ajmal Shahzad 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.” 

Shahzad – the first British-born Asian to play for Yorkshire – takes the number of Yorkshire players with no memory of the incident to seven. He had denied in April that Rafiq’s previous claims that “there was me, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan” within earshot of Vaughan. 

He told the Yorkshire Post he had no recollection of any such comment, but has declined to comment since then. 

Vaughan, meanwhile, went on to add: “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.” 

Conflicting recollections from former team-mates had surfaced since the former England captain revealed in his Telegraph Sport column that he is accused by Rafiq. 

Rashid, the only Asian Yorkshire player to have previously not commented on the allegation, rallied behind Rafiq’s version of events just 24 hours prior to a hearing before MPs. 

“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,” Rashid has said in a statement issued to 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 comment to a group of us Asian players.” 

Rashid’s comments were perceived as significant given he is the only player to still play at an elite level for England. Other former internationals had previously come to Vaughan’s defence after he had said he was “gobsmacked” to be named in a 100-page report produced by an independent investigation panel, which has still not been released in full.

Rashid, who was presented with his first Test cap by Vaughan, said he was “encouraged by the fact that a parliamentary committee seems to be trying to improve the situation” by grilling witnesses on Tuesday. 

Rafiq, former Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton and Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, will be questioned under parliamentary privilege by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. However, there are no other Yorkshire officials now expected to give evidence after several late drop-outs. 

Two invited witnesses, Mark Arthur, the chief executive who quit last week, and Wayne Morton, the club’s director of medical services, have been removed from the list after apparently telling the committee they will not be appearing. 

MPs were also unable to call Martyn Moxon, the director of cricket who with Arthur faces criticism in the club’s investigation into the Rafiq case, as he has been signed off with stress. 

In response to Rashid’s statement, Lord Patel, the new chairman at Yorkshire, said he had invited him to talk through his experiences. “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,” Patel added. 

“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.” 

Vaughan, the 2005 Ashes winner, was temporarily stood down from Radio 5 Live’s Tuffers and Vaughan programme over the furore. 

A Telegraph Media Group spokesperson previously said: “We take this matter very seriously and have approached Yorkshire County Cricket Club to request a copy of their report, which we have not yet had sight of.” 

He has now repeatedly stood by his “complete and categorical” denial after Naved-ul-Hasan, then the club’s overseas player, said a fortnight ago he was prepared to provide evidence to any inquiry supporting Rafiq’s claims. 

A host of former England team-mates, including Monty Panesar, expressed shock that he had been caught up in the row. “My experiences of him when I was playing for England, he helped me so much with my game, he believed in my ability, he encouraged me to celebrate the way I used to celebrate,” Panesar said. 

“He’s helped so many people from different backgrounds, different races, different cultures, because he wants the best players playing and wants the best for England when he was captain. 

“I don’t believe he’s a racist but if Azeem Rafiq believes that then provide the evidence. You can’t just accuse anyone without evidence.”

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