Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan was made to confront his historic racially aggravated tweets while giving evidence at a hearing where he denied using a racist phrase toward teammates when playing for Yorkshire.
Vaughan, one of the best England batters of his generation, was defending his reputation when being cross-examined in front of a disciplinary panel in London for more than an hour on Friday.
Vaughan is facing a charge by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after he was alleged by former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq to have told a group of Yorkshire teammates of Asian ethnicity — including Rafiq — that there were “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” on the sidelines of a Twenty20 match in 2009.
Vaughan categorically denies the allegation, made in 2021, which he said has had a “profound effect” on his health and wellbeing.
“I consider it to be inconceivable that I would use the words contained in the allegation,” Vaughan said in his witness statement.
ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy brought up a number of historic tweets posted by Vaughan, specifically two dated from 2010 that — it was put to Vaughan — contained language similar in tone to the allegation made by Rafiq.
Vaughan said he was “disgusted” by the tweets he sent and they were “unacceptable.”
“I’ve always gone out of my way to make sure people are loved,” Vaughan said, to which Mulcahy replied: “But you’re also the person who sent those tweets?”
“Yes. But when I do something wrong I stick my hand up and say I’m wrong,” Vaughan said. “When I’m in a group, I would not be saying something that could put four of my teammates into a position of not performing.”
Vaughan, who captained England’s test team from 2003-08 and also the country’s one-day international team during that period, said he “couldn’t have been more proud” of having four Asian players in the Yorkshire team at the same time.
Those players were Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved ul-Hasan. Rashid has supported Rafiq’s allegation.
Vaughan said he arranged a meeting with Rafiq in November 2021, soon after the allegation was made, and that they spoke for three-to-four hours.
Asked by Mulcahy why he would arrange to meet Rafiq if he was adamant nothing had happened, Vaughan said he felt the issue was “getting too big, hurting too many people.”
“I don’t think this is the right process to deal with a word-versus-word process from 14 years ago,” he said. “Whatever happens, this has a terrible look on the game, a real bad look on how cricket has dealt with this situation.”
The allegation against Vaughan is part of a scandal that has brought shame on Yorkshire, England’s most successful cricket team with 33 county championship titles. It erupted when Rafiq went public, saying he had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying across two spells at the club between 2008-18.
Seven of Rafiq’s 43 claims were upheld after an investigation and Yorkshire apologized for Rafiq being the victim of “racial harassment and bullying.” Yet it didn’t lead to anyone in Yorkshire’s leadership facing disciplinary action following the club’s own internal investigation. As a result, disrepute charges were issued by the ECB against Yorkshire and seven individuals with prior connections to the club, one of whom was Vaughan.
Vaughan’s lawyer, Christopher Stoner, was critical of the ECB’s investigation into the case, saying it was based on “assumption upon assumption.”
The hearing began Wednesday and is taking place in front of a three-person panel. It is scheduled to run until March 9.