By: Pramod Thomas
MICHAEL VAUGHAN’s lawyer said allegations of racism made against the former England captain by Azeem Rafiq are “word against word” at a hearing in London on Thursday (2).
Pakistan-born Rafiq, 32, first raised allegations of racism and bullying in September 2020, related to his two spells at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
He told MPs in December 2022 the abuse he and his family had faced had forced him to leave the UK.
Vaughan and fellow former Yorkshire players Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, John Blain, Andrew Gale and Richard Pyrah all face charges related to the use of racially discriminatory language.
The case against Vaughan was heard by the Cricket Discipline Commission panel on day two of the hearing on Thursday.
ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy repeated the allegation that Vaughan, on the outfield prior to a Twenty20 match between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on June 22, 2009, remarked about four Asian players that “there’s too many of you lot”.
The players were his Yorkshire team-mates Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Rana Naved ul-Hasan and Ajmal Shahzad.
Mulcahy said the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) contends that Vaughan made the alleged comment and therefore “caused prejudice or disrepute to cricket”.
Vaughan’s lawyer confirmed the 48-year-old denies the charge and said the burden of proof was on the ECB.
“Mr Vaughan cannot recall precisely what he said but is clear the words used and in the context used are unacceptable,” said Christopher Stoner.
“Mr Vaughan is adamant he did not use them.”
Stoner said Sky TV footage was “inconsistent with anything untoward being said”.
He added that Vaughan’s autobiography “makes reference to that game and that the four Asian players who played is the start of things to come and good for Yorkshire cricket”.
“The alleged comment was not said at the time and including at the end of the game where it would quite obviously have been discussed even between friends, even if it did not become formally reported,” he said.
“It was not in fact mentioned by anyone for a period of 11 years. Now 14 years after the event, it is word against word.”
Rashid was then called as a witness via a video link from Bangladesh, where he is currently playing in a one-day international series for England.
The spin bowler said he could not remember the result at Trent Bridge but said he took “zero” wickets. He said he could not remember what the weather was like.
Stoner asked Rashid: “You say what Mr Vaughan said on that day was a poor attempt at humour?” to which Rashid replied: “Yes, that is correct.”
“I can take you through your witness statement and say that as far as you are concerned, Mr Vaughan is not racist,” added Stoner.
“Yep, that’s correct,” said Rashid.
Vaughan is the only one of the cricketers charged by the ECB over bringing the game into disrepute set to attend the CDC hearing over the next week.
The ECB brought charges against seven individuals, and Yorkshire, in June last year.
Another player, Gary Ballance, has already admitted a charge related to the use of racially discriminatory language.
Ballance, a former England Test player, is now playing for the country of his birth, Zimbabwe.
Yorkshire have also admitted four charges.
Last month, Yorkshire Cricket Club chair Lord Kamlesh Patel announced that he will step down at the club’s annual general meeting in March.
In a exclusive interview, Lord Patel told Eastern Eye that personal attacks on him had become a distraction and were harming the club, so he felt the right thing to do was to quit as chair.