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Michael Vaughan has been dropped from BT Sport’s Ashes coverage because of his involvement in the ongoing investigation into racism at Yorkshire cricket. But on a day of mixed fortunes for the former England captain, he was also told by the BBC that it expected to work with him again – before, hours later, revealing that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
Vaughan, 47, had already been removed from BBC Radio’s Test Match Special team for the Ashes. However, it had been expected that he would be heard on BT Sport as part of its feed from the Australian host broadcaster Fox Sports.
But on Wednesday BT confirmed it was considering a “hybrid approach” to ensure that Vaughan does not appear due to Azeem Rafiq’s allegations during their time playing for Yorkshire.
“The recent report presented to the UK parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire county cricket club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all,” BT Sport said in a statement. “Given these recent events and the controversy with the situation, we have taken the decision that including Michael Vaughan within our Ashes coverage would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values.
“We are still finalising plans but we are assessing the option of taking a hybrid approach, using Fox commentary where possible with the aim of putting our own commentary team in place if necessary.”
Vaughan’s future as a pundit has been in considerable doubt ever since Rafiq claimed that Vaughan said “there’s too many of you lot, we need to do something about that” to four Asian players before a T20 game between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
In recent weeks the BBC has postponed the Five Live show Tuffers and Vaughan several times, and pulled the England captain from their Ashes coverage, amid an investigation into those remarks in 2009.
However, on Wednesday the BBC released a fresh statement saying it expected Vaughan to be back working for the corporation after recent talks.
“We’re in regular contact with Michael and have had positive conversations with him in recent days,” the BBC said. “Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael’s involvement in a story of such significance means it’s not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment. We’re pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC.”
The BBC’s decision follows an apology from Vaughan to Rafiq last week for the hurt he went through at Yorkshire. However, Vaughan reiterated that he had not used the words attributed to him by Rafiq.
“It was [one of] my last few games and I just remember clearly I was proud as punch that we had four Asian players representing Yorkshire,” Vaughan told BBC Breakfast. “Nothing but a proud senior old pro just about to retire, absolutely delighted that Yorkshire had come so far.”
Vaughan also apologised for a series of historical tweets, including one that suggested that England player Moeen Ali should go around asking Muslims if they were terrorists.
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“I can apologise if I was involved in any way, shape or form in a dressing room that had a culture that wasn’t inclusive for everyone,” added Vaughan. “My recollections of all the dressing rooms that I played in were inclusive to everyone, but I’m more than happy for people to come forward and say you know what, that wasn’t the case.”
On Wednesday afternoon Vaughan also revealed that he had tested positive for Covid, which means he is likely to miss the first Ashes Test in Brisbane next Wednesday.
“I’ve had to delay my flight to Australia until next week because of a positive Covid test, which is frustrating,” he tweeted. “But at least I’ll avoid the rain in Brisbane for a few days!”