England 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 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”.
Rashid, who helped take England to the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup this month, 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.”
Speaking to the PA news agency from his home in Knutsford earlier this month, Vaughan said: “I’ve never said anything racist in my life. I know that in my life, I’ve never said anything racist to anybody. So, that’s what I stand by.”
Nevertheless he was stood down from his hosting role on BBC Radio Five Live’s Tuffers and Vaughan Show last week. PA has contacted the corporation for fresh comment.
Recently-appointed Yorkshire chair Lord Kamlesh Patel welcomed Rashid’s account and has already made contact with the 33-year-old to open dialogue.
“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.
“It is essential that those who have experienced or witnessed racism, discrimination and abuse are able to come forward to share their experiences. 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.
“I will be listening to the session with great interest to help us understand the past and address the many challenges which have come to light,” said Patel.
“It is right that the issues which were initially brought up by Azeem Rafiq, and the way in which they were handled, are properly examined by the committee. We have provided the committee with a copy of the full report, given its legal interest in the case.
“It is clear that we have handled this issue badly and the investigation was flawed. Azeem giving evidence is an important moment and, as a whistleblower, he should be praised for speaking up. I have said from the outset that we need to listen and to learn in order to create urgent change at Yorkshire Country Cricket Club”.