England cricketer Adil Rashid has backed up allegations that former national captain Michael Vaughan used racially insensitive comments toward a group of players of Asian ethnicity at county club Yorkshire.
Vaughan has denied the allegation — made by former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq in a report into what he described as a culture of racism at the club — that he once said about the inclusion of four players of Asian heritage in the lineup in 2009: “There are too many of you lot; we need to do something about it.”
The four players in question were Rashid, Rafiq, Ajmal Shahzad and Pakistan international Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. Naved has confirmed to ESPN Cricinfo that he overheard Vaughan’s remarks.
Now Rashid, who played in England’s 50-over World Cup-winning team in 2019 and was at the just-finished T20 World Cup, has said he supported Rafiq’s allegation about Vaughan.
In a statement issued via The Cricketer on Monday, Rashid wrote: “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 responded by releasing a statement through Britain's Press Association, repeating his denial and outlining his desire not to let his reputation “be trashed unfairly."
“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," Vaughan said.
“It is extremely upsetting that this completely false accusation has been made against me by a former teammate, apparently supported by two other players."
Vaughan said he remembered the match clearly because it was the first time in Yorkshire’s history that four players of Asian heritage were selected in the same team.
“It was an important milestone for the county and it was also a moment of pride for me personally," he said. "I made a point of shaking all four players’ hands that day because I recognized it was a significant moment.
“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. To be confronted with this allegation 11 years after it has supposed to have happened is the worst thing I have ever experienced.”
Vaughan pointed to a passage in his contemporaneous autobiography, during which he wrote that increased representation from the Asian community “ought to be a good thing for our cricket,” as well as television footage from the game that he said showed him “specifically congratulating each of the players concerned.”
Ajmal Shahzad, who in 2004 became Yorkshire’s first British Asian cricketer, said during an interview last year he had not heard the comment in question.
“For some time, Ajmal Shahzad has been on record as saying that he never heard me say what has been suggested,” Vaughan said. “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.”
While making no new allegations, Rashid has welcomed recent steps to shine a light on racism, including the parliamentary hearing with the digital, culture, media and sport select committee that Rafiq is attending on Tuesday.
Rashid, a legspinner who made his first-team debut at Yorkshire 15 years ago — overlapping significantly with the careers of both Vaughan and Rafiq — said he would be “more than happy to support any official efforts when the time is right.”
“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," he said. "These can only be positive developments.”
Vaughan was stood down by the BBC from his hosting role on a radio show last week.
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