Michael Vaughan feared his life in English cricket would be over if he had been found guilty of racism as he spoke last night of the 512 days of hell he and his family have been put through.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s Cricket Discipline Commission announced on Friday that an allegation made by Azeem Rafiq that Vaughan had told four Asian players “there are too many of you lot, we need to have a word about that” in 2009 was not proven, in part due to “significant inconsistencies in the evidence” of both Rafiq and key witness Adil Rashid.
Five other individuals who played at Yorkshire, including former England players Matthew Hoggard and Tim Bresnan, were found to be partially guilty of using racist language.
Vaughan, who will reveal his full story an an exclusive interview with the Sunday Telegraph, revealed the mental torture his wife, Nichola, has experienced and the impact the case has had on his parents. He also spoke about how his children received direct messages on social media saying their father was a racist.
‘I just burst out crying’
Vaughan was in his van at 7am on Friday morning, driving to collect his son from school for the Easter holidays when he found out he had been cleared.
“I just burst out crying,” Vaughan said. “It was just the pure relief when your lawyer says you’re cleared. The hardest thing for me has been to see the suffering of my family and the families of Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid and all the lads involved. The trauma these individuals have had to go through has not been fair on human beings.
“When your wife is having to take beta blockers for 16 months and you wake up in the middle of the night and she is crying her eyes out it is so hard. Anyone with kids knows they don’t give much away, but I know how hard it has been for them and the children of all those involved.
‘There are people who wanted to see the back of me in cricket’
“My wife knows how hard I have worked in the game for 32 years. She could see it was crashing down. There are people who wanted to see the back of me in cricket.
“It was only around 11am today when I had the radio on I realised how big news it was. Then it hit me. I thought: ‘Oh no, what if it had gone the other way?’ I would have been done.”
Vaughan has hit out at the ECB accusing it of a failure of its duty of care to all involved in the case on both sides and revealed his anger at its handling of the case against him.”
“At the hearing I thought ‘we are here on a word-on-word comment from 14 years ago’ and the ECB – an organisation I gave everything to for 17 years from England Under-17s to England Test team – try to discredit you in a hearing. How has it got to this? What is it all about? It was serious matter but it all went too far. It could have been dealt with in a better way.”
The ECB defended its investigation as being thorough and transparent.
The CDC in its judgment said it was “not satisfied on the balance of probabilities” that Vaughan said the phrase and pointed to “significant inconsistencies” in evidence given by Rafiq and Adil Rashid.
Former England and Yorkshire cricketer Gary Ballance pleaded guilty and the panel upheld some of the charges against Bresnan, Hoggard, Andrew Gale, Richard Pyrah and John Blain – all former Yorkshire players who did not appear at the hearing.
The verdicts were delivered in an 82-page document on Friday morning. All individuals have 14 days to appeal.
Rafiq said: “The issue has never been about individuals but the game as a whole. Cricket needs to understand the extent of its problems and address them.
“Hopefully, the structures of the game can now be rebuilt and institutionalised racism ended for good. It’s time to reflect, learn and implement change.”
Richard Thompson, ECB chair, said: “This has been an incredibly challenging period for our sport, but one we must all learn from in order to make cricket better and more inclusive.
“Given the nature of these cases, they have taken a clear toll on everyone involved. There now needs to be a time of reconciliation where, as a game, we can collectively learn and heal the wounds and ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again.”