Michael Vaughan apologises to Azeem Rafiq but denies racism allegations

Former captain of England Cricket, Michael Vaughan [Photo: Shutterstock]

Former England captain, Michael Vaughan, has apologised to Azeem Rafiq for what his former Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) teammate endured during his career, but denies allegations of being racist himself.

Vaughan was speaking on the BBC Breakfast show with presenter Dan Walker. He said: “I am sorry for the hurt he (Azeem Rafiq) has gone through. It hurts deeply, hurts me that a player has gone through so much, been treated so badly at the club that I love.

“I have to take some responsibility for that because I played for YCCC for 18 years and if in any way, shape, or form I am responsible for any of his hurt, I apologise for that.”

Vaughan played his entire career as a domestic country cricketer for YCCC from 1993 to 2009.

He added: “Time I don’t think can ever be a healer in the situation that he’s gone through. But hopefully, time can be a way of us making sure that Yorkshire never goes through this situation again and never puts themselves in a position of denial that they treated a player so badly.”

When Walker asked the former England skipper about his comment, “there are too many of you lot, we need to do something about it,” to four Asian players, Vaughan replied: “I don’t remember saying that, my recollection from that day, as I have said, I was a Yorkshire player for 18 years, I was the first player to sign for that club that was not born in the county, so for 18 years we had gone from me being the first to sign for the club, Sachin Tendulkar being the first from overseas, to players being able to sign from other clubs.”

He added: “It was my last few games and I remember it clearly that I was proud as punch that we had four Asian players representing Yorkshire Cricket Club. Nothing but a proud, senior, old pro just about to retire and absolutely delighted that Yorkshire had come so far in my time at the club.”

“We’ve got too much ‘he said, she said, did they say’ and I think we’ve got to move on from accusations of conversations from many years ago. There’s a bigger picture here” Vaughn said when asked whether the trio is lying.

Rafiq’s allegations have been supported by Adil Rashid, leg spinner for England, and the former Pakistani bowler, Rana Naved-ul-Hassan, who also said they heard Vaughan’s comment. When he was asked whether he made any racist comments during his time at the club, he said: “No, I didn’t. No.”

“That hurts because I have always felt that every single team that I have been involved in, the biggest praise I have got as England captain for six years was that I was the kind of person that really galvanised the group. I always felt that I was the person in the dressing room that really wanted everyone to feel included”, Vaughan said.

He added: “I understand the story is all about Azeem Rafiq and racism in cricket. I just hope in time I will have that chance to come back. The one thing I have loved more than anything since retiring is talking cricket, and I hope I can do that again.”

In the past few weeks, two of Vaughan’s previous problematic tweets have been circulating on social media: “Not many English people live in London…I need to learn a new language” he tweeted in 2010, and similarly in 2017 he answered “Yes” to a question about whether England all-rounder Moeen Ali should ask Muslims if they are terrorists.

When the presenter read out his tweets to him, he said: “I look back at my 12 years in social media, I regret many tweets. I apologise deeply to anyone I offended with those tweets.

“We all make mistakes and, in my life, I have made quite a few mistakes on Twitter. I apologise for that, but I can’t suddenly get rid of it. That’s happened, but I think sometimes through social media, people can presume who you are and interpret who you are because of a tweet or two. I know who I am, and I hope the people around me, who were close to me, know exactly who I am.”

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