Hearing on racism in Yorkshire cricket begins: Michael Vaughan, Azeem Rafiq and everything you need to know

Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq is due to appear in person to testify at this week’s disciplinary hearing

The racism scandal that has engulfed Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the English game since 2020 will come to a head in the coming days.

More than two and a half years have passed since former Yorkshireman Azeem Rafiq made allegations of racism in Yorkshire, later calling English cricket “institutionally racist”.

On Wednesday, a much-anticipated Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) hearing will begin in London and run until 9 March.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What’s about to happen?

A panel will hear disciplinary proceedings brought against Yorkshire and seven individuals who have all been charged by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) with bringing the game into disrepute.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan is expected to be the only accused individual to appear in person after a series of withdrawals from the disciplinary process.

Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, John Blain, Andrew Gale and Richard Pyrah withdrew, while Gary Ballance has admitted responsibility in response to his accusation and will not participate.

Yorkshire will also miss out after the club pleaded guilty to four amended ECB charges.

The hearing will be public – a first for the CDC – at the request of Rafiq, who will also attend in person.

However, that doesn’t mean the general public will be able to watch it; instead, accredited journalists will be allowed to watch a live feed of the hearing in London.

The panel will comprise former Derbyshire batsman Tim O’Gorman (chairman), Mark Milliken-Smith KC and Dr. Seema Patel.

Michael Vaughan
Former Yorkshire and England captain Michael Vaughan is due to testify in person at the hearing

What are the charges against Vaughan?

Rafiq claims Vaughan said “a lot of you, we need to do something about this” to him and three other Asian players in 2009 while they were all away in Yorkshire.

England player Adil Rashid and former Pakistani player Rana Naved-ul-Hasan corroborated the allegation, that Vaughan “completely and categorically denies”.

The fourth player in the group, pitcher Ajmal Shahzad, said he had no memory of the eventexternal link.

Vaughan was not involved in the BBC’s coverage of the Ashes in Australia the following winter, but returned to commentator in March 2022.

He walked away from his job at the BBC in June last year after he was charged by the ECB and two groups of BBC officials raised concerns about his continued involvement in the broadcaster’s cricket coverage.

Vaughan captained England in 51 Tests between 2003 and 2008. He played his entire Yorkshire domestic career – between 1993 and 2009 – before becoming a rundown in the BBC Test Match Special.

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Analysis – BBC sports editor Dan Roan

This is the latest chapter in what has become one of the most damaging and protracted episodes in English cricket history, which has forced its most successful county – and the wider game too – to grapple with nagging questions about dressing room culture and language. . , as well as its history of representativeness, inclusion and diversity.

To many it may seem like a farce that all but one of the defendants will not be present when proceedings begin at the International Arbitration Center on Fleet Street in London, but there is still a lot at stake:

For the cash-strapped Yorkshire, who will be braced for a possible points deduction or hefty fine, exacerbating the financial challenges the club already face after spending millions of pounds on ex-staff compensation and legal fees;

For Vaughan, whose BBC broadcasting job has been suspended since he was indicted, and who may now be depending on him to clear his name;

For Rafiq, who has admitted to making mistakes in the past and who, as a key witness, must be cross-examined by Vaughan’s legal team, but who says this will finally offer him “closure”;

For current England player Adil Rashid who is expected to give testimony in Bangladesh via video link;

And for the ECB, which is under intense pressure to properly investigate what has become a national scandal, but whose disciplinary process has also been sharply criticized by some of those involved for a lack of independence and fairness.

And with the publication of a landmark report on inequality in English cricket due shortly after this hearing ends, the game is now gearing up for another period of intense scrutiny.

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How did we get here?

Former Yorkshire spinner Rafiq first made allegations of historic racism at Headingley in an interview with the Cricket Badger podcast in august 2020.

The county hired law firm Squire Patton Boggs to investigate, and more than a year after Rafiq’s initial allegations, an abridged version of a report was published in the september 2021. Seven of Rafiq’s 43 claims were upheld and Yorkshire apologized for “racial harassment and bullying”.

However, the panel’s report was not published and no player, employee or executive faced disciplinary action as a result of its findings. The result generated widespread criticism and, in November 2021 Yorkshire was temporarily disenfranchised to host international matches at Headingley for the ECB.

Former chairman Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur resigned in November 2021the same month that Rafiq appeared before a selected Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee to give evidence including branding English cricket “institutionally racist”.

In December 2021Hutton’s replacement as President of Yorkshire, Lord Kamlesh Patel fired 16 members from the club’s backstage and coaching staff, including coach Gale and bowling coach Pyrah. Both would eventually agree to compensation for a claim of unfair dismissal.

Patel’s reforms in Yorkshire saw the club re-established as an international venue in time for summer 2022.

Shortly before Headingley hosted England’s Test against New Zealand in June 2022the ECB announced that charged the county and seven individuals.

Gale, who denies the allegations made by Rafiq, dropped the disciplinary process two weeks later, calling it “tainted”.

In August 2022Ballance, who admitted to using racist language towards Rafiq, issued an apology which Rafiq accepted. Ballance has since been released from his Yorkshire contract and returned to play for his native Zimbabwe.

Rafiq and Gale were scolded by the ECB in October 2022 for historic social media posts of a racist nature. Both admitted to making the posts, which were unrelated and for which Rafiq apologized.

In November 2022the CDC took the unprecedented step of opting to hold its public hearing and scheduled it for later that month.

An appeal against that decision by the defendants delayed the hearing and was eventually overturned.

In February 2023former players Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan and John Blain withdrew from disciplinary proceedings, with former Yorkshire bowling manager Pyrah also leaving days later.

Last week Yorkshire admitted documents on accusations of racism against the club have been deleted in previous regime.

What were the claims against others?

Matthew Hoggard

In his statement, Rafiq accused former England player Hoggard of using racist slurs against him and other Asian players “on a daily basis”.

He said after publicizing their experiences in the media, Hoggard called him to apologize and he thanked his former teammate for his apology.

Hoggard, who took 248 wickets in 67 Tests for England, played for Yorkshire between 1996 and 2009 before joining Leicestershire until his retirement in 2013.

He withdrew his cooperation from the disciplinary process in February, saying it was “not an admission of guilt” but did not consider the process “fair”, adding that the investigation had “failed everyone”.

Tim Bresnan

Rafiq accuses Bresnan of “frequently” making racist remarks towards him during their time together at Headingley and has said that Bresnan’s behavior led to “suicidal thoughts”.

Bresnan, who played 23 Tests and 85 One-Day Internationals for England, apologized to Rafiq for the bullying allegations but denies accusations of racism.

Bresnan left Yorkshire for Warwickshire in June 2020 and his new club said they would not face any disciplinary action but would undergo cultural awareness training. He subsequently retired from cricket in January 2022.

Like Hoggard, Bresnan withdrew from the disciplinary process because he doesn’t believe he’ll get a fair hearing.

Andre Gale

As of December 2021, Gale was among 16 employees sacked by Yorkshire in a sweeping overhaul of its senior leadership under the new regime.

windstorm won a lawsuit for unfair dismissal against Yorkshire in June last year. The county said the layoffs were “necessary and justified” and President Patel stated that it was “absolutely the right thing to do”.

Former batsman Gale, who spent his entire career at Yorkshire, has been suspended as part of an investigation into a tweet he sent in 2010 before being sacked.

He and Rafiq were among the five current and former players reprimanded by the ECB for historic social media posts of a racist nature in October. Rafiq had previously apologized to a 2011 Facebook exchange containing anti-Semitic messages.

Gale said the disciplinary process was “tarnished” when he retired in June 2022.

Ricardo Pyrah

Former bowling coach Pyrah was also one of 16 employees fired and also won a wrongful dismissal lawsuit last year.

Rafiq claims Pyrah, who also had a 12-year playing career at Yorkshire until 2015, has dismissed his complaints of bullying and racism from other players.

Rafiq said he told Pyrah he was being bullied by Bresnan but was told to ignore it.

Pyrah withdrew from the process earlier this month, saying it was not “open, fair or transparent”.

Gary Ballance

In his testimony to a DCMS select committee, Rafiq said the atmosphere in Yorkshire had become “toxic” after Gale retired to replace Jason Gillespie as head coach and Ballance took over as captain in 2016.

Ballance previously admitted to using racist language about Rafiq’s Pakistani heritage towards him. Rafiq said he personally accepted an apology from Ballance in August and asked that his former teammate “be allowed to get on with his life”.

Yorkshire have since released Ballance from his contract at his request and he has started representing his home country of Zimbabwemaking his international debut against Ireland in January.

john blain

Rafiq alleges that in 2011 then Yorkshire second-team manager Blain “humiliated” him by shouting at him and telling a referee “get him off the ground now” when Rafiq attended a training session. Yorkshire suspended Rafiq for a month over a tweet he sent, but he said his ban did not prohibit him from attending training or matches at the ground.

Former fast bowler Blain, who won 118 caps for Scotland, was “temporarily suspended” of the Cricket Scotland Hall of Fame.

Like Hoggard and Bresnan, Blain withdrew from the disciplinary process because he doesn’t believe he’ll get a fair hearing.

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