Cricket-Vaughan denies racism allegation, says Yorkshire hearing 'bad look' for sport

West Indies v England - Second Test

(Reuters) - The disciplinary hearing into allegations of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club is a "terrible look for the game" and is not the right process to investigate the claims, former England captain Michael Vaughan said on Friday.

Yorkshire and a number of individuals were charged by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last year after an investigation into racism claims made by former player Azeem Rafiq, who alleged in 2021 that he had been a victim of institutional racism at the club.

The scandal rocked English cricket and led to numerous changes in coaching and administrative personnel at Yorkshire.

Rafiq, a player of Pakistani descent, alleged that Vaughan told him and other players of Asian origin that there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it" before a match in 2009.

The allegation was backed up by England leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

Vaughan, who played for Yorkshire between 1993 and 2009, has strongly denied the accusation and did so again on Friday under cross examination.

"I have a very clear mind about, back in 2009, that I know I didn't say the words I've been alleged to have said," said Vaughan, who captained England in 51 tests.

"If you go through the history of me as a player I don't know any time I'd have gone onto a pitch and said something to my team mates that would have put them in a bad state of mind to play cricket," Vaughan added.

"That comment I'm alleged to have said would have put my team mates in a position not to be able to perform to their maximum.

"I have to keep going back to my recollections of that game. You've got three or four Asian players in the team at the same time, I couldn't have been more proud."


Vaughan also accepted that historical tweets he had sent during his playing career could have been offensive to Rafiq, saying, "in 2021, when the historic tweets (surfaced), I straight away was disgusted with them and apologised for them."

The 48-year-old added that he had met with Rafiq in 2021 because "the whole situation was escalating out of control".

"It's not been easy for anybody, this. This is not the right process to deal with word-against-word comments from 14 years ago," Vaughan said.

"Ex-team mates fighting it out over hearsay is a terrible look for the game and a really bad look on how cricket has dealt with this situation.

"We have to expose discrimination and make sure people are held accountable but I just feel that by having conversations, from that meeting, I thought we were on the right platform in working together and helping each other but that's not been the case."

The hearing is scheduled to run until March 9.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)