LONDON: Former cricketer and sports broadcaster Michael Vaughan has apologized for the hurt Azeem Rafiq has experienced amid his former Yorkshire teammate’s allegations of racism.
Rafiq told a parliamentary committee earlier this month about the “inhuman” treatment he endured while playing for the county, with former England captain Vaughan named among several figures implicated in the tussle.
Vaughan has denied claims that he said there were “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” to Rafiq and three other Asian players before a match in 2009.
But while the allegations and investigations continue, the BBC has jettisoned Vaughan from its upcoming coverage of England’s Ashes tour of Australia due to a potential “conflict of interest.”
In an interview with the BBC following the decision, Vaughan said: “I’m sorry for the hurt (Rafiq has) gone through. Time I don’t think can ever be a healer in the situation that he’s gone through.
“But hopefully time can be a way of us making sure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club never goes through this situation again and never puts themselves in a position of denial that they treated a player so badly.
“It hurts deeply, hurts me that a player has gone through so much (and) been treated so badly at the club that I love.
“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.”
Rafiq’s testimony to MPs has been supported by former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who said they heard Vaughan’s “you lot” comment.
When asked by the BBC if they were lying about the allegation, Vaughan said: “The problem with this situation is that we’ve got too much ‘he said, he said, she said, did they say’ and I think we’ve got to move on from accusations of conversations from many years ago. There’s a bigger picture here.”
The 47-year-old added that the alleged incident occurred during “my last few games and I just remember it clearly that I was proud as punch that we had four Asian players representing Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
“Nothing but a proud, senior, old pro just about to retire and absolutely delighted that Yorkshire had come so far in my time at the club.”
His apology also included regret for a series of tweets from a similar time, which included comments on the lack of English speakers in London and suggesting that England colleague spin bowler Moeen Ali should ask fellow Muslims that he was not acquainted with if they are terrorists.
“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.”
The former England skipper accepted the BBC’s decision to ditch him from the Ashes coverage, which kicks off on Dec. 8.
“I won’t be doing the Ashes which I understand, the editorial at the moment is all about Azeem Rafiq and racism in the game of cricket. I get that,” he said.
“I just hope in time I get that chance to come back. The one thing I love more than anything since I retired is talking cricket. I love being on Test Match Special and hopefully in time I get that chance to do it again.”