England cricket star Adil Rashid has backed claims former captain Michael Vaughan made racists remarks, Midlands Correspondent Ben Chapman reports
England cricket star Adil Rashid has come out in support of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations against Michael Vaughan regarding comments made “to a group of us Asian players”.
Rashid, who has played 199 times for his country and was a key part of the World Cup-winning side in 2019, has spent his whole career at Yorkshire County Cricket Club but has previously kept his counsel on the racism crisis engulfing the club.
That changed on Monday morning, when he issued a statement via The Cricketer echoing Rafiq’s claims against the former England captain.
Vaughan revealed earlier this month that he had been named in the independent investigation into Rafiq’s claims of institutional discrimination at Yorkshire but completely denies telling a group of team-mates of Asian ethnicity: “too many of your lot, we need to do something about it”.
In a new statement today he says he "categorically" denies making racist comments and that it "simply never happened."
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.”
The Bradford-born leg-spinner made his first team debut at Yorkshire 15 years ago, overlapping significantly with the careers of both Vaughan and Rafiq, and is one of the county’s most successful players of recent times.
He made no new allegations against any of those he has played with or for over the years but welcomed recent steps taken to shine a light on the matter, including Tuesday’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing. He also placed on record his willingness to assist in any future investigations.
“Racism is a cancer in all walks of life and unfortunately in professional sports too, and is something which of course has to be stamped out,” he said.
“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. These can only be positive developments.
"I will of course be more than happy to support any official efforts when the time is right. For now, though, these matters are of an intensely personal nature and I will not be commenting on them further. I ask you to respect my privacy and allow me to focus on my cricket.”
In a statement today, Michael Vaughan said: "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.
"Anyone who has viewed the Sky footage of Yorkshire's pre-match huddle at the game in question in June 2009, and the interaction between the players, would find it hard to reconcile those scenes with the version of events that has been presented.
"I remember the match clearly because it was the first time in Yorkshire's history that four players of Asian heritage had been 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 goes on to say: "It is extremely upsetting that this completely false accusation has been made against me by a former team-mate, apparently supported by two other players.
"For some time, Ajmal Shahzad has been on record as saying that he never heard me say what has been suggested. 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."
Recently-appointed Yorkshire chair Lord Kamlesh Patel welcomed Rashid’s account and has already made contact with the 33-year-old to open dialogue.
He said: “I am aware of the recent statement from Adil Rashid, and I welcome his courage in speaking up at what is a difficult and distressing time for all those who love this club and the sport of cricket.
“I have been in touch with Adil personally today so that we can talk through the issues as soon as he is ready and able.”
Patel also gave his seal of approval to the DCMS committee hearing, at which Rafiq will speak under parliamentary privilege about his experiences at Headingley.