Vaughan says it's 'inconceivable' he made racist remark

Azeem Rafiq has been accused of being prepared to use the "race card" on the day Michael Vaughan defended himself against a charge that he made a racist remark to his former Yorkshire teammate.

Matthew Wood, a former personal development manager at the Professional Cricketers' Association, appeared as a witness in defence of former England captain Vaughan at a Cricket Discipline Commission hearing in London on Friday.

In his witness statement Wood, himself an ex-Yorkshire player, said: "In my dealings with Azeem, I was aware of two occasions in which he (directly or indirectly) acknowledged that he would be prepared to use the 'race card'.

"By that, I understood Azeem to mean that he would make, or allude to, an allegation of racism in bad faith in order to gain an advantage."

Wood said in his written statement that those two occasions were in 2018, when he and Rafiq spoke about whether the player might be offered a new contract, and in 2019 when Rafiq was in discussions over trying to be accepted on to a level-four coaching course.

On the first of those occasions, Wood said in his written statement: "I asked Azeem, 'And what will you do if Yorkshire don't offer you a new contract?' Azeem replied with words to the effect of, 'I'll just hit them with the race card'."

England and Wales Cricket Board lawyer Jane Mulcahy, cross-examining, told the hearing Wood had not made reference to Rafiq 'using the race card' when speaking to Yorkshire investigators or the employment tribunal involving Rafiq.

"The reason you didn't is that Mr Rafiq didn't play the race card," she said.

Wood replied: "At the time it wasn't asked and I wasn't sure where it was going. My superiors at the PCA knew about Rafiq's comments and I later added it to my statement."

Vaughan had earlier told the hearing it was "inconceivable" he had made a racist comment to teammates Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan during a match for Yorkshire in 2009.

He said the whole process was a "terrible look" for cricket.

"If you go through the history of me being a player, I don't know any time I would have gone on to a pitch and said something to my team-mates that would have put them in a bad state of mind to play cricket," he said.

Vaughan did apologise for historic tweets he had posted, including one about the directory service 118 118 sent in 2010, and said he had enrolled on an online course to educate himself in 2021 when the historic tweets resurfaced.

Vaughan also said he had met with Rafiq in November 2021.

"I apologised to Azeem on behalf of Yorkshire because clearly there have been issues," Vaughan said.

"I'm disgusted with what Azeem Rafiq has had to go through. We had a three- or four-hour discussion, we had fish and chips from (Rafiq's) shop, they were nice.

"I had 17 years at Yorkshire, I loved every minute. My experience was not the experience that Azeem had and for that I was hugely apologetic."

Mulcahy pointed out Vaughan had not made a personal apology, and Vaughan replied: "I can't apologise for something I don't recollect saying."

The lawyer asked why Vaughan had initiated the meeting, if he personally had not done anything wrong.

"I felt it was getting too big, hurting too many people. It's not been easy for anybody, this," he said.

Vaughan's witness statement also said the process had had "a profound impact" on him.

"My health and my personal well-being have suffered badly," he said.