Michael Vaughan feared his life in English cricket would be over if he had been found guilty of racism as he spoke last night about the 512 days of hell he and his family endured.
The Cricket Discipline Commission of the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Friday that an allegation by Azeem Rafiq that Vaughan had said to four Asian players in 2009: “There are too many of you, we need to say something about that”. was not proven, in part because of “significant inconsistencies in the evidence” from both Rafiq and star witness Adil Rashid.
Five other individuals who played in Yorkshire, including former England players Matthew Hoggard and Tim Bresnan, were found partially guilty of using racist language.
Vaughan, who will reveal his full story in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Telegraph, revealed the mental torture his wife, Nichola, has endured 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 into tears’
Vaughan was in his van at 7am on Friday morning to pick up his son from school for Easter break when he discovered he had been cleared.
“I just burst into tears,” Vaughan said. “It was just the sheer relief when your lawyer says you’ve been acquitted. The hardest thing for me was the suffering of my family and the families of Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid and all the boys involved. The trauma these individuals have endured has not been fair to man.
“If your wife has to take beta blockers for 16 months and you wake up in the middle of the night and she’s crying her eyes out, that’s so hard. Anyone with kids knows they don’t give much away, but I know how hard it’s been for them and the kids of everyone involved.
‘There are people who wanted to see me in cricket’
“My wife knows how hard I worked in the game for 32 years. She saw it was collapsing. There are people who wanted to see me in cricket.
“It wasn’t until around 11am today when I turned on the radio and realized 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 ready.
Vaughan has hit at the ECB accusing him of failing his duty of care to all involved in the case on both sides and expressing his anger at the handling of the case against him.
“At the hearing I thought ‘we’re here with a word-for-word comment from 14 years ago’ and the ECB – an organization I’ve given everything to for 17 years, from England Under-17s to England Test team – are you trying discredited at a hearing. How did it come to this? What is it all about? It was a serious matter, but it was all going too far. It could have been handled in a better way.”
The ECB defended its investigation as thorough and transparent.
The CDC said in its ruling that it was “not satisfied on the basis of likelihood” that Vaughan uttered the sentence, pointing to “significant inconsistencies” in Rafiq and Adil Rashid’s evidence.
Former England and Yorkshire cricketer Gary Ballance pleaded guilty and the panel upheld some charges against Bresnan, Hoggard, Andrew Gale, Richard Pyrah and John Blain – all former Yorkshire players who failed to appear at the hearing.
The verdicts were handed down Friday morning in an 82-page document. All persons have 14 days to appeal.
Rafiq said: “The problem was never about individuals, but the game as a whole. Cricket needs to understand the magnitude of its problems and address them.
“Hopefully the structures of the game can now be rebuilt and institutionalized racism can be ended for good. It’s time to think, learn and make change.”
Richard Thompson, President of the ECB, said: “This has been an incredibly challenging period for our sport, but we all need to learn from it to make cricket better and more inclusive.
“Given the nature of these matters, they have taken a clear toll on all involved. There must now be a time of reconciliation where, like a game, we can collectively learn and heal the wounds and ensure that something like this can never happen. again.”