Ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan has rubbished the racism allegations labelled against him by Azeem Rafiq – former Yorkshire cricketer.
Rafiq had claimed that he faced “institutional racism” during his stint at the Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) and Vaughan was racist towards him and other Asian Yorkshire team-mates in 2009.
Vaughan rebuffed Rafiq's accusations that in his final season with YCCC, he had told Rafiq and two other Asian players that there are "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it".
The 2005 Ashes-winning captain further cited that he was approached in December 2020 to talk to the independent panel probing Rafiq's allegations of racism at Yorkshire.
"The night before I was due to give evidence, out of the blue, I was hit with the news that Rafiq was alleging that in 2009, when I was still a player and before a Yorkshire match against Nottinghamshire, I had said to Rafiq and two other Asian players as we walked onto the field together that there are "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it," Vaughan wrote in his column in The Telegraph.
"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. That the allegation came completely out of the blue and more than a decade after it was alleged to have happened made it all the more difficult to process," he noted.
"I completely and categorically deny that I ever said those words. I responded to the panel by saying I was gobsmacked and that my professional legal advice was that I could not appear before a panel having had just a few hours' notice of such serious claims made against me," the 47-year-old pointed.
"It was 11 years after the alleged event. Nothing at all was raised or said at the time of the game in question. It was not mentioned at the time or at any stage over the next 11 years until the night before I was asked to speak to the inquiry."
"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," he added.
Meanwhile, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has suspended Yorkshire from hosting international matches over the racism row.
After an investigation, the Yorkshire County Cricket Club in September this year said Rafiq, during his first stint as a player at YCCC, was the victim of racial harassment and bullying.
However, ECB has found Yorkshire County's report "wholly unacceptable" and the board said the matter is "against the spirit of cricket and its values".
ECB further said that YCCC won’t be allowed to host matches until it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and First Class County.