Former England captain Michael Vaughan says the disciplinary hearing into allegations of racism at Yorkshire is a “terrible look” for cricket.
Vaughan is accused of saying “there’s too many of you lot, we need to have a word about that” to Azeem Rafiq and three other Asian players at Yorkshire before a T20 match in 2009.
Vaughan has “completely and categorically” denied the allegation – and did so again when giving evidence for the first time in the hearing on Friday.
The 48-year-old was critical of the process and said he met Rafiq in November 2021 because “the whole situation was escalating out of control”.
In the meeting Vaughan apologised to Rafiq for the hurt the former spinner had experienced at Yorkshire but did not accept he made the alleged comment.
Rafiq said on Thursday that Vaughan’s subsequent actions had left him feeling “naive”.
“It’s not been easy for anybody,” said Vaughan, under cross-examination by Jane Mulcahy KC – the lawyer for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
“This is not the right process to deal with word-against-word comments from 14 years ago.
“Ex-team-mates fighting it out over hearsay is a terrible look for the game and a really bad look on how cricket has dealt with this situation.”
Vaughan makes ‘Question of Sport’ joke during hearing
Yorkshire has accepted four amended charges from the ECB, which also includes the county accepting there was a “systemic” use of racist or discriminatory language at the club during Rafiq’s career.
Former Yorkshire and England bowler Matthew Hoggard has admitted using a racist slur relating to Pakistani heritage and another racist term that is offensive in South Africa while at the club.
Vaughan repeatedly denied having heard such racial slurs while at Yorkshire.
When asked to confirm details about how many years he had played alongside Hoggard for both Yorkshire and England, Vaughan joked: “It’s like Question of Sport, this.”
The former batter, who started work as a BBC pundit after retiring in 2009, said he had a “very clear mind” about the match in question against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on 22 June 2009.
He said that he “knows” he did not make the alleged comment to Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan because he was “proud” of it being the first time four Asian players had been in the same side for Yorkshire and it was a sign of how far the county had come.
He agreed that the comment was unacceptable and racist but insisted he did not say it, in part because it would have affected the morale of his team-mates and possibly their performance.
Vaughan also denied he had said the alleged comment in jest.
Mulcahy brought up historical tweets sent by Vaughan, which were brought to his attention in his BBC interview in November 2021, and the ex-England captain apologised again for the “disgusting” messages.
Mulcahy suggested the “tweets are remarkably similar in tone to the allegation”, which Vaughan denied.
The hearing continues.