'Was proud as punch that we had four Asian players': Vaughan apologises to Rafiq for 'hurt' during racism scandal
Rafiq's revelations about the racism and bullying he suffered at Yorkshire has sparked a crisis in the English game, and his accusation about Vaughan prompted the BBC to drop the former international from its coverage of the upcoming Ashes series against Australia.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan apologised to former county teammate Azeem Rafiq for the 'hurt' he has gone through during the Yorkshire racism scandal. However, he admitted that he did not remember saying the words that Rafiq alleged which led to him stepping down from BBC Test Match Special's commentary team for the impending Ashes series.
Rafiq had claimed that Vaughan had once told the four Asian players part of the Yorkshire team, "there are too many of you lot, we need to do something about it". Speaking to BBC Breakfast's Dan Walker, Vaughan said that he was rather "proud as punch" to take the field in 2009 with Rafiq, Adil Rashid and Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.
"I don't [remember saying that]," Vaughan said. "My recollection from that day, as I've 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.
"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."
Rafiq, a former England under-19 captain, recently testified at a parliamentary hearing about the racism he suffered while playing at Yorkshire, describing “inhuman” treatment, with Vaughan and others implicated in the case.
"I’m sorry for the hurt that he’s gone through,” Vaughan told the BBC.
"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 County Cricket Club never goes through this situation again and never puts themselves in a position of denial that they treated a player so badly.
"It hurts deeply," he continued, "hurts me that a player has gone through so much (and) be treated so badly at the club that I love. 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 apologize for that."
The England and Wales Cricket Board on Friday released its comprehensive plan to address issues raised by Rafiq. It includes the creation of an anti-discrimination unit and a review of dressing-room culture.
Rafiq's accusation about Vaughan was supported by former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who said they heard the comment.
Vaughan also apologized for a series of offensive historic tweets, including one questioning the lack of English speakers in London and another suggesting that England spinner Moeen Ali should ask random Muslims if they are terrorists.
"I apologize deeply to anyone that I've offended with those tweets," Vaughan said.
"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 apologize for that."
(with agency inputs)