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News

Adil Rashid denies feeling pressure to confirm Michael Vaughan's 'you lot' comment

England bowler says he was not coerced into backing Azeem Rafiq's version of events

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
02-Mar-2023
Azeem Rafiq arrives at the International Arbitration Centre in London  •  PA Images/Getty

Azeem Rafiq arrives at the International Arbitration Centre in London  •  PA Images/Getty

Adil Rashid has denied being pressurised into supporting Azeem Rafiq's claims that their former team-mate, the ex-England captain Michael Vaughan, made racist remarks to a group of Asian players ahead of a Yorkshire T20 match in 2009.
Rashid, who is currently on tour with England's white-ball squad in Bangladesh, joined the Cricket Discipline Commission hearing in London via Zoom on Thursday, where he was cross-examined for 80 minutes by Vaughan's legal team, led by Christopher Stoner KC.
Vaughan, who had himself been due to give evidence but is now expected to appear on Friday, is the only one of seven former Yorkshire players - including two fellow Ashes-winners in Matthew Hoggard and Tim Bresnan - willing to answer charges that he, and the club as a whole, breached ECB Directive 3.3 in bringing the game into disrepute.
Vaughan categorically denies Rafiq's claim - first made in an interview with Wisden.com in 2020 and subsequently repeated at the DCMS parliamentary hearings in November 2021 - that he had told the four Asian players in Yorkshire's team (Rafiq, Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Pakistan's Rana Naved-ul-Hasan) that "there are too many of you lot, we need to have a word about that."
In the course of his cross-examination, Rashid told Mr Stoner that he remembered Vaughan making the comment as the team took the field for a Twenty20 Cup fixture against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on June 22, 2009, but insisted that he had not considered it to be racist at the time, rather a "poor attempt at humour".
The exact wording of the remark came under scrutiny from Vaughan's team, with Rafiq himself admitting under his own cross-examination later in the day that he had made a "clear mistake" in his witness statement, where he had initially remembered the words as "there's too many of you lot, we need to do something about it".
Rashid was also asked about two other witness statements submitted to the hearing, from his former team-mate Shahzad - who was on the field at the time of the alleged remark but has not corroborated it - and Liz Neto, a former HR manager at Yorkshire.
Both statements suggested that Rashid had been coerced into speaking out against Vaughan, with Shahzad claiming that the pair had spoken in December and that Rashid was "very uncomfortable with where this was going".
"He wanted to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later because quite frankly he was uncomfortable with how much Rafiq knew about Adil," Shahzad's statement read. "And that at some point [Rafiq] was capable of, you know, using something that he knew about [Rashid] personally against him."
Neto, meanwhile, claimed that Rashid had phoned her "on more than one occasion … when the media furore was at its zenith.
"He appeared distressed and indicated to me he was being pressured to corroborate allegations of racism then being made even though he did not want to.
"He said to me that he could not remember the particular comment he was being asked to say he witnessed, nor anything racist being said in his presence. He said to me he had told Mr Rafiq, 'No matter how many times you tell me I heard it, Azeem, I cannot remember hearing it.' "
Rashid denied both versions of events.
He was also quizzed about his own witness statement, which outlined details of a fish-and-chip-shop business that Rashid and Rafiq had entered into "between October 2021 and October 2022". Asked if this could have been a factor in any coercion, Rashid described himself as a "silent partner" in the arrangement, adding that he had not sought to recoup his investment when the business folded.
"I am not supporting Azeem because he is a friend or because of any shared business interest," Rashid said. "I am giving evidence based on what I had heard."
Mr Stoner also referenced a statement that Rafiq had given to Yorkshire's original investigation into his claims of institutional racism at the club, as carried out by the law firm Squire Patton Boggs. In that, Rafiq admitted that Rashid had not remembered Vaughan's alleged comment, adding "Adil has had a loss of memory . . . God bless him". Again, Rashid denied that version of events.
Later in the day, Rafiq was pressed on his long-term relationship with Yorkshire - in particular a pair of incidents early in his career, when he was censured in 2010 for an outburst on Twitter against his then England-Under 19 coach, John Abraham, and also for his role in 2008 in an abandoned T20 quarter-final against Durham, after it was discovered that, as a Pakistan-born player, he had been incorrectly registered with the club.
The latter incident, he says, led to questions "about whether I was an illegal immigrant," and he disagreed with suggestions that Yorkshire had accepted responsibility. "It caused press intrusion and I missed some crucial cricket for my development."
The hearing continues.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket