Michael Vaughan claims reputation being ‘trashed unfairly’ as he reiterates denial of racist comment

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Vaughan says the comment ‘simply never happened’  (PA)
Vaughan says the comment ‘simply never happened’ (PA)

Michael Vaughan has launched a fresh defence of his conduct at Yorkshire County Cricket Club after a third teammate claimed to have heard him make a racist comment towards Asian players in 2009.

On Monday the England spinner Adil Rashid added his voice to the claims of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Azeem Rafiq, who all say they heard Vaughan remark: “Too many of your lot, we need to do something about it.”

Rafiq made the original allegation as part of a series of complaints about a culture of racism at Yorkshire during his time at the club which were investigated by an independent panel.

Vaughan initially used his Daily Telegraph column to deny making the comment, and he reiterated that stance in a lengthy statement in which he said the comment “simply never happened”.

Pointing to footage of the pre-match huddle on the day in question, which occurred moments before the alleged remark was made, Vaughan said it was “hard to reconcile” the jovial scenes with the claims against him and that he had felt “proud” to be part of a multi-racial team.

“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,” Vaughan said. “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.”

Vaughan also pointed to his autobiography, published that year, in which he wrote: “Many of our [Yorkshire’s] most promising players come from the Asian community and it ought to be a good thing for our cricket.”

He added: “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.

“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.”

Rashid, who was part of the England side which reached last week’s T20 World Cup semi-finals, has kept quiet on the racism scandal engulfing Yorkshire until now. But in a statement to The Cricketer, he said: “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.”

Vaughan was stood down from the BBC’s Tuffers and Vaughan radio show amid the storm. The BBC has been contacted for further comment.

Adil Rashid has supported claims made by Azeem Rafiq about former England captain Michael Vaughan (Tim Goode/PA)
Adil Rashid has supported claims made by Azeem Rafiq about former England captain Michael Vaughan (Tim Goode/PA)

Vaughan’s statement in full

“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 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.

“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.”

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