Former England captain Michael Vaughan is amongst several high-profile names who were charged by the ECB on Wednesday following the governing body’s investigation into alleged racism at Yorkshire.
Although they face no criminal charges, seven individuals, also including Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, Gary Ballance and former head coach Andrew Gale, plus the club itself will be subject to disciplinary hearings this autumn.
That timeframe will ensure Yorkshire’s racism saga, brought to light by Azeem Rafiq’s whistleblowing in August 2020, will extend beyond two years.
The latest twist came seven months after former player Rafiq’s harrowing testimony in front of a parliamentary select committee as it was finally confirmed – following the ECB’s own probe into racism and other allegations of misconduct at Headingley – that a Cricket Discipline Commission panel would conduct a hearing in September or October.
The ECB have not named the individuals but Sportsmail understands Vaughan, England’s 2005 Ashes-winning captain, is included in the number and contacted his representatives for comment.
Vaughan, 47, has ‘completely and categorically’ denied telling Rafiq and other Muslim players before a Yorkshire match in 2009: ‘Too many of you lot; we need to do something about it.’
He was named in the original inquiry into institutional racism at Headingley, which concluded with the club releasing a statement last September that confirmed Rafiq had been the victim of ‘racial harassment and bullying’ and seven of his 43 allegations had been upheld but did not include disciplinary action for anybody.
Hoggard, Bresnan and Ballance were also publicly accused by Rafiq.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan is amongst several high-profile names who were charged by the ECB after the investigation into alleged racism at Yorkshire
Gary Ballance (pictured) and former head coach Andrew Gale, plus the club itself will be subject to disciplinary hearings this autumn
Ex-England players Matthew Hoggard (left) and Tim Bresnan (right) will both face disciplinary hearings this autumn
Disciplinary hearings this autumn mean Yorkshire’s racism saga, brought to light by Azeem Rafiq’s whistleblowing in August 2020, will extend beyond two years
Bresnan declined to comment on Wednesday night. He apologised for bullying behaviour when his name came out last November but has repeatedly denied ever being racist.
In contrast, Ballance – who remains sidelined with mental health issues – admitted referring to Rafiq by the derogatory term ‘P***’ as part of ‘banter’ between them and Hoggard called Rafiq to apologise for calling him ‘Rafa the Kaffir’ when the pair were team-mates a decade ago.
The charges are alleged breaches of ECB directive 3.3 of the sport’s code of conduct – relating to actions considered to be improper or which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer into disrepute – and its anti-discrimination code.
Under CDC regulations, teams, registered cricketers, coaches employed after March 2018, umpires and match referees, registered agents, ECB committee members and anyone else who has agreed in writing to be bound by the ECB rules can be charged.
The latter is relevant to former players who sign statutory regulations to abide by the guidelines of the governing body when registering to represent the first-class counties.
However, the majority of those involved are no longer involved in the sport directly and will therefore have to weigh up whether to offer a plea in response.
The investigation was prompted by allegations of racism made by former player Azeem Rafiq
There is a chance that some may not abide by a disciplinary procedure that they are no longer bound to.
The list of sanctions available to the CDC range from a caution on future conduct; a reprimand; unlimited fine; playing bans; suspension of selection eligibility for matches and representative cricket; suspension or termination of registration; and completion of education programmes.
Andrew Gale was one of 16 members of staff sacked in the aftermath of Rafiq’s revelations
But that is not an exhaustive list and Sportsmail understands potential punishment could extend to denial of entrance to cricket grounds for those found guilty.
All CDC hearings are held in private and do not permit media access.
And while the ECB opted not to identify the individuals charged on Wednesday, they will do so, as standard practice, when the CDC publishes its decisions post-hearing.
In response, former England Under-19 captain Rafiq welcomed the developments and added: ‘This has been another gruelling but unfortunately necessary process. It has been a long two years since I went public about my experiences, but I hope this all means that no young player ever goes through such pain and alienation again.
‘My preference would be for this hearing to take place publicly, but I am hopeful that we are at least nearing a point where there will be some sense of closure for my family and me.’
Rafiq claimed Vaughan said ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’ towards Yorkshire’s Asian players before a match in 2009
Yorkshire, who announced that some allegations date back as far as 2004, said in a statement: ‘Unless and until that cooperation by those with first-hand knowledge and responsibility during the relevant period is forthcoming, the club is not able to comment on the investigation, evidence, report or charges but will, of course, continue to fully cooperate with the CDC throughout this process.’
However, there was a twist in the tale on Wednesday night when David Willey – who remains the club’s Twenty20 captain – took to social media to rubbish managing director Darren Gough’s claim of trying to keep him at the club but could not match the offer his former side Northamptonshire made.
As revealed by Sportsmail, Willey had agreed a long-term deal to extend his seven-year stay in Leeds with the previous regime but did not sign before the entire coaching staff were sacked last December.
David Willey has rubbished managing director Darren Gough’s claim of trying to keep him at Yorkshire but could not match the offer his former side Northamptonshire made
‘The comments made by Yorkshire around my contract discussions with the club are inaccurate,’ he wrote on Instagram.
Willey, 32, said of his four-year agreement to return to Wantage Road from 2023: ‘Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding the recent events at the club have made my work environment unsettling.
‘The cricket and the current players seem to be secondary at the moment to repairing the clubs (sic) reputation.
‘It certainly felt that way for me over the past 12 months. I play cricket because I love the game. I just want to play somewhere that cricket is the focus and where I feel valued on and off the field.’