'Gobsmacked': Michael Vaughan embroiled in 'abhorrent' cricket scandal
The cricket scandal that has embroiled the sport has just taken another twist after former England captain Michael Vaughan denied allegations he made a racist comment while playing at Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has faced a mountain of backlash over its handling of allegations of racism by former player Azeem Rafiq.
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Yorkshire has been banned from hosting international matches due to the fallout.
Headingley stadium frequently hosts international matches, with the ground a regular fixture on the Ashes calendar when Australia tours England.
As well as the ban on Yorkshire, England batsman Gary Ballance, who said on Wednesday he had used racist language towards former County teammate Rafiq, has also been indefinitely suspended from England selection.
However, Vaughan wrote a column in The UK Telegraph to claim he was the former player involved in the report and he was 'gobsmacked' to have allegations levelled against him.
The incident allegedly occurred when Yorkshire were taking the field against Nottinghamshire in 2009.
The report alleged Vaughan told Rafiq and two other Asian players that there are "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it".
Vaughan, who won the 2005 Ashes as England captain, denied all allegations.
"This hit me very hard," Vaughan said of the allegation.
"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 completely and categorically deny that I ever said those words," he added.
"I responded to the panel by saying I was gobsmacked … It was 11 years after the alleged event. Nothing at all was raised or said at the time of the game in question, or at any stage over the next 11 years until the night before I was asked to speak to the inquiry."
ECB slam handling of Azeem Rafic report
Vaughan's reveal comes 24 hours after the England and Wales Cricket Board took aim at the way the report was handled.
"It is clear ... that YCCC's handling of the issues raised by Azeem Rafiq is wholly unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game," the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement.
"The ECB find this matter abhorrent and against the spirit of cricket and its values."
"Before any regulatory investigation is complete, the Board wishes to take immediate action in relation to Gary Ballance," the ECB said.
"While Ballance has not been selected to play for England since 2017, he will be suspended indefinitely from selection. This position will be reviewed following the ECB regulatory investigation into his conduct."
The ECB added it had agreed to hold Yorkshire to account over their handling of the matter and to consider sanctions including but not limited to financial and future match allocations at the end of its investigation.
Nike and a number of other sponsors have said they would end their partnership with Yorkshire after the release of the report.
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