'Torn apart': England icon backs Michael Vaughan amid scandal

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·Sports Reporter
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Former England captain Michael Vaughan has been defended by former player Monty Panesar as the sport deals with the fallout of a racism scandal at Yorkshire. Pictures: Getty Images
Former England captain Michael Vaughan has been defended by former player Monty Panesar as the sport deals with the fallout of a racism scandal at Yorkshire. Pictures: Getty Images

Former England captain Michael Vaughan continues to insist he did not make an alleged racist comment which resulted in him being unceremoniously dumped from BBC's Ashes coverage.

Explosive testimony before the British parliament from former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq has kickstarted a broader discussion about racism in English cricket.

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Rafiq testified that Vaughan had said there were 'too many of you lot' to he and other players of Asian descent back in 2009, claims which were backed up by several former teammates.

That was just one story out among a wave of damning testimony from Rafiq about his time as a professional cricketer, while several high-profile cricketing figures caught up in the disclosures.

Vaughan told the BBC he was sorry that Rafiq's experience at Yorkshire had been such a negative one, but continued to insist he had never made the comment Rafiq referred to before parliament.

Declaring he had been 'proud as punch' to have four Asian players at the club shortly before his cricketing retirement, Vaughan said he was an 'old pro' who was 'delighted' to welcome some diversity into Yorkshire's ranks.

Rafiq's testimony however, suggested the environment was anything but welcoming, alleging non-English players were frequently referred to with racially abusive nicknames and generally not taken seriously.

Vaughan said he was 'deeply hurt' that Rafiq had endured such a torrid time at Yorkshire.

“It hurts deeply, hurts me that a player has gone through so much be treated so badly at the club that I love,” Vaughan said. 

“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 apologise for that.”

Vaughan also used the interview to apologise for a series of racist posts on Twitter he says he now regrets, including one from 2010 in which he said he would need to learn a new language because 'not many English people live in London'.

He also suggested former England player Moeen Ali, who is Muslim, should have to ask fellow Muslim's if they were 'terrorists' in a 2017 tweet in the wake of the Manchester bombing.

Vaughan was also criticised for referring, on air, to a joke among Yorkshire players where they nicknamed Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara 'Steve', ostensibly because the team 'can't pronounce his first name'.

“I apologise 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 apologise for that.”

Monty Panesar backs Michael Vaughan amid England racism storm

Monty Panesar has said the "blacklisting" of Vaughan is a "distortion of natural justice" after the former England captain was dropped from the BBC radio commentary team for the upcoming Ashes series amid an ongoing racism row.

The BBC said were Vaughan to commentate on the five-Test Ashes series, which starts in Brisbane next month, it would represent a "conflict of interest".

Meanwhile, BT Sport are examining ways to ensure the 47-year-old's commentary — via Fox Sports in Australia — does not appear on British television screens.

"This feels deeply unethical — a classic case of someone being tried and convicted without any form of due process being undertaken," former England bowler Panesar wrote in a website piece published Friday by Britain's Daily Telegraph, the newspaper for which Vaughan is a columnist.

Panesar, the first Sikh to represent England, played international cricket under Vaughan and he insisted he had never known any prejudice from his former skipper.

Former England spinner Monty Panesar says it was premature to sack Michael Vaughan from the upcoming Ashes broadcast. (Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)
Former England spinner Monty Panesar says it was premature to sack Michael Vaughan from the upcoming Ashes broadcast. (Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)

"I only experienced positive things with him," the left-arm spinner said. "I cannot reconcile the man I know with the one who has been the subject of these allegations."

Panesar stressed he wasn't calling Rafiq a liar or absolving Vaughan from Yorkshire's failure to tackle discrimination "but that doesn't make him a racist, and does not mean he deserves to see his career and reputation torn apart".

The 39-year-old said the BBC and BT had taken the "easy option" by blocking Vaughan from broadcasting on the Ashes.

"To blacklist one of the best England captains we have produced on the basis of historic and still unproven allegations feels wrong, and a distortion of natural justice," he added.

With AFP

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