We needed Vaughan to talk about racism years ago, not when he is in the crosshairs | Jonathan Liew

Every day of silence on Azeem Rafiq’s experience was a missed chance to tackle a problem that has blighted English cricket

On Saturday morning the BBC broadcast an interview with the former England captain Michael Vaughan about accusations of racism, that he has repeatedly denied, made against him by his former teammate Azeem Rafiq. If it was a deeply uncomfortable experience for Vaughan, who has been dropped from the Test Match Special team covering the forthcoming Ashes, then he was at least optimistic. “How we move on from this situation is the key,” Vaughan argued with regards to the Yorkshire scandal exposed by Rafiq. “I firmly believe that it’s education, honest conversations, people admitting that things may have been said and sticking their hands up.”

On the most serious accusation against him – that he told four Asian players including Rafiq in 2009 that there were “too many of you lot” – Vaughan was not sticking his hand up. Rafiq’s version of events has been supported by two of the other players, Adil Rashid and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan; Ajmal Shahzad says he did not hear it and praised the backing he had from senior Yorkshire players at the time. Vaughan reiterated that he had no memory of making the comment. He rejected Rafiq’s suggestion that he may have forgotten he said it because he did not fully grasp its overtones. Still, he told interviewer Dan Walker, he wanted to apologise to Rafiq. “I’m sorry for the hurt that he’s gone through.”

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