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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Michael Vaughan shows we are now living in a ‘guilty until proven guilty’ Orwellian state

“Cricket is facing a reckoning,” thundered Cindy Butts, chair of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, on Radio 4. Hang on, should we really be so quick to damn an entire sport? A sport which, when Britain entered the Iraq War in 2003, boasted a man who was born a Shia Muslim as captain of the England team. Might Nasser Hussain leading his country with distinction for 45 Test matches not even slightly mitigate the charge that cricket is “institutionally racist”?

And what of Shahzad? The former England fast bowler, who was a team-mate of Rafiq at Yorkshire, says: “I’ve never experienced racism myself in cricket. You never want to hear the things that Rafiq said he experienced. I can only go off my own experiences. The people, the backroom staff, the environment were brilliant and I’ve still got very good friends from that time. I can only speak highly of Yorkshire and the guys who were involved. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the man I am now.”

Shahzad makes a critical point that has been overlooked in the past week’s hysterical rush to judgment: “As a South Asian community, we cannot say that the pathways are closed or there’s racism out there. I think that’s a very easy place to go and it’s actually a very bad place to go.”

He’s right to be worried, I think. The Woke Inquisition will not usher in a brave new colour-blind world of social harmony. It’s far more likely to promote mutual suspicion and segregation, driving a wedge between communities where hardly any existed. If we carry on picking off people like Michael Vaughan, we will surely achieve the equal-opportunities Nirvana where no white person ever says anything accidentally offensive to a non-white person – because they will avoid their company, increasingly sticking to their own kind and treating them with mistrust lest a slip of the tongue or a stupid joke ends up in a disciplinary hearing. I ask you, who wants to live in that paranoid, grievance-ridden, litigious, sanctimonious, humourless, fearful society?

One of our greatest batsmen finds himself, once again, at the crease. This time, he is batting to save his reputation. His opponents are trawling through his Twitter account, gloating over a single word out of place. He will need every ounce of that gritty, Yorkshire-opening-batsman mentality to win the day. You led your country 51 times, Michael Vaughan, against some of the toughest players on the planet; you’ve got this. Like that young captain of England said many years ago: “If you have character you have half a chance.” Don’t forget. There are millions of us who are willing you on. We don’t accept that you’re guilty until you’re proven guilty. It’s just not cricket. And it’s just not us.


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