Adil Rashid ‘confirms Azeem Rafiq’s recollection of Michael Vaughan’s comments’

Adil Rashid appeals for a wicket while playing for Yorkshire
Adil Rashid has been at Yorkshire since 2006

England bowler Adil Rashid says he heard Michael Vaughan make a racist comment to a group of Asian cricketers, becoming the third player to do so.

Rashid’s former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq alleges Vaughan said “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” to him and three other players.

The allegation, which Vaughan “completely and categorically denies”, was corroborated by former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who said “systematic taunting” occurred at the club.

In a statement to The Cricketer,external-link Rashid said he could confirm what Rafiq had said.

On Monday, Vaughan reiterated his denial and said the comment “simply never happened”.

The fourth player in the group – bowler Ajmal Shahzad – previously told the Daily Mailexternal-link he had no recollection of the event and “the senior guys were really good to me”.

Inconceivable I would have made comment – Vaughan

Vaughan previously said, in a column for the Daily Telegraph, the comments he is alleged to have made were said in 2009 while he was still a Yorkshire player.

In a new statement to the Press Association on Monday, the former England captain 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.”

Vaughan says he remembers the match as it was the first time Yorkshire had selected four players of Asian heritage in the same team, adding that it was “an important milestone for the county and it was also a moment of pride for me personally”.

He says it was a “a sign of the progress” made during his 16 years at the club and he “made a point of shaking all four players’ hands that day because I recognised it was a significant moment”.

Weeks after the match, Vaughan says he wrote “enthusiastically” about it in his biography, saying it would “be the shape of things to come for Yorkshire”.

He says it is therefore “inconceivable I would have made the derogatory comment attributed to me”.

“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,” he added in his statement on Monday.

“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.”

Racism has to be stamped out – Rashid

Rashid, who has been at Yorkshire since 2006, released a statement after the T20 World Cup, where the leg-spinner helped England reach the semi-finals.

“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 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.

“I’m encouraged by the fact 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.”

New chair of Yorkshire Lord Patel said he “welcomes” Rashid’s courage in “speaking up at what is a difficult and distressing time for all those who love this club and the sport of cricket”.

Patel contacted Rashid on Monday in order that they can “talk through the issues as soon as he is ready and able”.

Rafiq and former Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton will give evidence at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing on Tuesday.

Writing in his Daily Telegraph column earlier this month, Vaughan, who was stood down from his BBC Radio 5 Live show, said: “This hit me very hard. It was like being struck over the head with a brick.

“I have been involved in cricket for 30 years and never once been accused of any remotely similar incident or disciplinary offence as a player or commentator.

“I have nothing to hide. The ‘you lot’ comment never happened. Anyone trying to recollect words said 10 years ago will be fallible but I am adamant those words were not used.

“If Rafiq believes something was said at the time to upset him then that is what he believes. It is difficult to comment on that except to say it hurts me hugely to think I potentially affected someone.

“I take it as the most serious allegation ever put in front of me and I will fight to the end to prove I am not that person.”

Rafiq, who was born in Pakistan and moved to England aged 10, played the majority of his career at Yorkshire, between 2008 and 2018, and captained the club in 2012.

In September 2020, following an initial interview with Wisden,external-link Rafiq told ESPN Cricinfoexternal-link “institutional racism” encountered while at the club left him close to taking his own life.

He told BBC Sport he dreaded “every second” of his career and that a team-mate used a racially offensive term linked to his Pakistani heritage.

Yorkshire launched a formal investigation into Rafiq’s allegations in September 2020 and Hutton said the club would be carrying out a “wider review” of their “policies and culture”.

In August 2021, three days after Yorkshire received the findings of the independent report carried out by law firm Squire Patton Boggs, they admitted Rafiq was “the victim of inappropriate behaviour” – something Rafiq said was downplaying racism – and offered him their “profound apologies”.

The report summary said Rafiq was the “victim of racial harassment and bullying”, with seven of the 43 allegations upheld, although the club said they could not release the full report for legal reasons. They said there had been insufficient evidence to conclude the club was institutionally racist.

Rafiq questioned what punishments had been handed out to former players and a coach who had been found guilty of using racist language. He also questioned the validity of the investigation.

Former Yorkshire academy players Irfan Amjad and Tabassum Bhatti have since also shared their experiences of suffering racism while at the club.

Yorkshire’s independent whistleblowing hotline became operational on Monday, with Mohinderpal Sethi QC of Littleton Chambers appointed to lead the independent investigation process, which will consider any allegations that are lodged through the hotline.