Michael Vaughan set to be only charged individual to appear at racism hearing

Former England captain Michael Vaughan is the only charged individual still set to appear at a disciplinary hearing at the start of next month in relation to racism allegations made by his ex-Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Tuesday that former Yorkshire player and bowling coach Richard Pyrah had informed it he would not be attending, joining Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan and John Blain in refusing to engage with the process.

However, the Cricket Discipline Commission panel will still hear the charges against those five individuals in their absence. The other individual charged, Gary Ballance, has admitted a charge of using racially discriminatory language and will not appear, the ECB said.

The ECB revealed Yorkshire had also admitted four amended charges and that their representatives would therefore not appear at the hearing.

These included a failure to address systemic use of racist and/or discriminatory language over a prolonged period, and a failure to take adequate action in respect of allegations of racist and/or discriminatory behaviour.

Yorkshire issued their own statement confirming they had admitted the charges, with chair Lord Kamlesh Patel saying: “Today’s announcement is an important step forward for Yorkshire County Cricket Club as part of its journey to learn from the past.

“Since becoming chair it has been clear that we needed to accept and take accountability as a club for the cultural issues which allowed racist and discriminatory behaviour to go unchallenged.

“We should be proud of the work that has been done to build new foundations for a club whose ambition is to become truly welcome to all.

“As I leave the position as chair, it is fundamental that the recently installed board and leadership team at the club continue on this mission and I know that they are as committed as I have been to bring Yorkshire back to where it should be, on and off the pitch.”

The ECB confirmed the hearing would take place in London between March 1 and 9.

Rafiq has previously alleged Vaughan told him and a group of other players of Asian ethnicity there were “too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” during a huddle before a Yorkshire match in 2009.

Adil Rashid and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan have both corroborated Rafiq’s account of the incident. Ajmal Shahzad has stated he did not hear Vaughan say these words, and Vaughan himself strenuously denies the allegation.

Rafiq first spoke out about the racism he had suffered at Yorkshire, and the impact of it on his mental health, in an interview in August 2020.

Yorkshire CCC DCMS committee hearing
Azeem Rafiq, pictured giving evidence at the DCMS hearing in November 2021 (House of Commons/PA)

A subsequent independent investigation commissioned by the county upheld seven of the 43 allegations he made, but Yorkshire announced in October 2021 that no individuals would face censure as a consequence of the investigation.

Yorkshire’s handling of Rafiq’s case prompted major changes in the county’s leadership, with Roger Hutton stepping down as chair to be replaced by Lord Patel. The ECB also stripped the county of the right to host lucrative international matches at Headingley until governance reforms were implemented.

The ECB charged the seven individuals – Ballance, Blain, Bresnan, Gale, Hoggard, Pyrah and Vaughan – in June last year, along with Yorkshire.

Rafiq has consistently stated his desire for the hearing to take place in public, a request which the CDC has upheld even following an appeal.

Hoggard, Bresnan and Blain all stated their intention to withdraw last week. Hoggard told the BBC the ECB disciplinary process had “failed everybody”.