Former England captain Michael Vaughan denied making a racist remark when he was skipper of Yorkshire but told the BBC on Saturday he apologises to his accuser ex-team-mate Azeem Rafiq if he was “responsible for any of his hurt”.
English cricket has been rocked by revelations of racism from Pakistan-born Rafiq. He gave harrowing testimony to lawmakers this month in which he said his career had been ended by the racist abuse he received while at leading English county Yorkshire.
These have included an allegation Vaughan told the now 30-year-old Rafiq and other Yorkshire players of Asian origin there were “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” during a county match in 2009.
Then Yorkshire paceman Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, a former Pakistan international, and current Yorkshire and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid have backed Rafiq’s version of events.
The fourth player in the group – bowler Ajmal Shahzad – has told the Daily Mail he had no recollection of the event and “the senior guys were really good to me”.
Vaughan – who has been dropped by the BBC from their broadcasting team for the forthcoming Ashes series in Australia – was adamant he never uttered those words saying “No I didn’t. No.”
Vaughan – who played his entire domestic career at Yorkshire from 1993 to 2009 – was distraught for Rafiq.
“It hurts deeply, hurts me that a player has gone through so much be treated so badly at the club that I love,” Vaughan said. “I have to take some responsibility for that because I played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club for 18 years and if in any way shape or form I’m responsible for any of his hurt, I apologise for that.”
‘We all make mistakes’
Vaughan – who captained England in Tests between 2003 and 2008 – said he felt proud about Asians playing for the club.
“I just remember it clearly that I was proud as punch that we had four Asian players representing Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” he said.
“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.”
Vaughan said the claims dated back so long that it was impossible to verify one account or the other.
“I think we’ve got to move on from accusations of conversations from many years ago,” he said. “There’s a bigger picture here.”
Two tweets have emerged over recent weeks that have also caused problems for Vaughan.
In 2010 he tweeted “Not many English people live in London… I need to learn a new language” and in 2017, following the Manchester Arena bombing, he answered “yes” to a question whether England all-rounder Moeen Ali should ask Muslims if they are terrorists.
He said he was a different person now.
“I apologise deeply to anyone that I’ve offended with those tweets,” said Vaughan.
“Times have moved on and I regret those tweets. We all make mistakes and in my life I’ve made quite a few mistakes on Twitter, I apologise for that.”
Vaughan has been defended by former England spinner Monty Panesar.
Panesar, the first Sikh to represent England, played international cricket under Vaughan and he insisted he had never known any prejudice from his former skipper.
“I only experienced positive things with him,” he said on Friday. “I cannot reconcile the man I know with the one who has been the subject of these allegations.”