The England and Wales Cricket Board is under heavy fire this week after Michael Vaughan was cleared of bringing the game into disrepute following claims of racism pursued by the governing body.
For two years, Vaughan was at the centre of the Yorkshire Cricket Club’s racism scandal based off of the testimony of former player Azeem Rafiq.
On Friday, Vaughan was finally cleared by the Cricket Discipline Commission of any charges, while co-accused John Blain, Tim Bresnan, Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard and Richard Pyrah were all found to have breached the ECB’s rules.
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Rafiq alleged that in 2009, Vaughan said “there’s too many of you lot, we need to do something about it” in the direction of four Asian players before a game at Trent Bridge.
The CDC ultimately ruled that, “on the balance of probabilities”, Vaughan did not make that remark.
Vaughan himself has since led criticism of the ECB, saying that the proceedings of the CDC were “inappropriate and inadequate”, and that he should not have been allowed to go two years in limbo.
“CDC proceedings are adversarial. They invite claim and counterclaim,” Vaughan posted on Instagram, after the ruling. “They invite those involved to accuse each other of untruths or lying … I remain of the view that no good can come of that approach.
“There are no winners in this process and there are better ways – there have to be better ways – for cricket to move forward positively and effectively.”
Vaughan later opened up to The Telegraph, sharing his experience of being “cancelled” for the two years he waited before eventually beating the claim.
The 2005 Ashes-winning captain said he spent “many moments” in his car crying, feeling betrayed by his former employer.
“I was sitting in the hearing asking myself, ‘What is this? We’re here about a word-against-word comment from 14 years ago,” Vaughan told The Telegraph.
“The England and Wales Cricket Board, the organisation I gave everything to for 17 years of my life, from the Under-17s through to the Test team, are trying to discredit me. How has it got to this?’”
The publication reports that the ECB’s investigation did not include talking to the umpires or the Sky cameraman who were around the moment in question in 2009.
Nor did its inquiries involve talking to Vaughan — an oversight he says hurt “hugely”.
“I think I had earned the right to get called down to Lord’s to be asked a few questions. To not be given that right, that opportunity to tell my story privately to a group of people, to talk honestly and openly? Surely, getting in a room and sorting it out would have been the most mature way to go about this business,” Vaughan told the publication.
Vaughan is, however, not the only one to question the procedure of the ECB in this saga.
Fellow former England captain Michael Atherton wrote in The Times about the potential need for an independent regulator, with the ECB holding potentially conflicting roles as a promoter, regulator and, in this instance, prosecutor.
“It would not be difficult to see how these roles could be perceived to be in conflict,” Atherton wrote.
“The kind of stories that no governing body wants to see flourish with a responsibility to promote the game at all levels to families and young people — such as racism or drugs, say — nevertheless require impartiality and fairness when investigations into disciplinary matters arise.”
Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Tom Morgan wrote that the Vaughan verdict “can be seen only as a major defeat” for the ECB, who presented a “weak” case.
Morgan added that the hearing was a “damning indictment on the game’s rulers”.