Adil Rashid breaks silence on Azeem Rafiq racism claims to corroborate Michael Vaughan comment allegation

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·3-min read
Adil Rashid breaks silence on Azeem Rafiq racism claims to corroborate Michael Vaughan comment allegation
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Adil Rashid has broken his silence on the racism crisis that has engulfed his county, Yorkshire, corroborating allegations that the former England captain Michael Vaughan made a remark about the number of players of Asian heritage in the team.

Yorkshire and the wider game in this country have been thrown into disarray by allegations from former player Azeem Rafiq about his two spells at the club.

Yorkshire have apologised to and reached a financial settlement with Rafiq. They have lost a slew of sponsors and been stripped of the right to host England at Headingley while the ECB investigate the matter.

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur have resigned, while director of cricket Martyn Moxon has been signed off with a “stress-related illness” and head coach Andrew Gale is suspended pending an investigation into racist historic tweets. Batter Gary Ballance is the first player to admit using racist language towards Rafiq.

Vaughan revealed earlier this month that he was named in Yorkshire’s report into Rafiq’s allegations. In 2009, he was alleged to have said “there are too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” when Yorkshire fielded four Asian players for a match against Nottinghamshire. Vaughan strenuously denies the allegation.

The four Asian players were Rafiq, Rashid, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, the former Pakistan fast bowler, and Ajmal Shahzad, the former England quick. While Shahzad has previously said he does not recall the comment, Rashid has joined Rana in endorsing Rafiq’s claim.

Rashid, the finest British-Asian player Yorkshire have produced, is a private man who has remained quiet on this “intensely personal” matter until now, perhaps because it has raged while he was involved in England’s T20 World Cup campaign in the UAE.

His intervention is pertinently timed, as it comes on the eve of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Select Committee hearing into institutional racism at Yorkshire, at which Rafiq will speak with the freedom of Parliamentary privilege.

In a statement released to The Cricketer, Rashid, who was presented with his first England cap by Vaughan in the UAE in 2015, said: “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.

Azeem Rafiq (Getty Images)
Azeem Rafiq (Getty Images)

“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 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 my team-mates for 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.”

Hutton, who only joined Yorkshire in 2020 but has now been replaced by the respected Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford, will speak at the DCMS hearing, but it is unclear which of the county’s other senior leaders will show. ECB chief Tom Harrison is also expected to speak.

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