Innocent until proven guilty. It is a notion that underpins justice in every civilised society and yet, in certain cases, it seems to be overlooked.
Take Michael Vaughan, for example. Vaughan has been the subject of allegations made by Azeem Rafiq that he made a racially offensive comment to him and other Asian players at Yorkshire, in 2009.
Three players, including Rafiq, have testified that he said it ; Vaughan has emphatically denied it , and another player – Ajmal Shahzad – went on record earlier this year to say he never heard him make that comment.
The upshot is that the BBC have dropped Vaughan from their coverage of the Ashes this winter, and BT Sport are currently exploring ways of making sure his commentary – via Fox Sports in Australia – does not end up on British screens.
This feels deeply unethical – a classic case of someone being tried and convicted without any form of due process being undertaken.
Nobody disputes the gravity of the allegations made by Rafiq, even if the ones about Vaughan are at the lower end of the scale, and they need to be properly investigated. Equally, the fact that this alleged incident took place 12 years ago means that it must be unlikely Rafiq’s claims will ever be proven.
I have already said that I absolutely do not believe Michael Vaughan is racist. He was my captain when I played for England and I only experienced positive things with him.
When I first attended an England training session Vaughan told the media and fellow colleagues: "Monty is a breath of fresh air in this England dressing room". He enjoyed how I approached the game, and celebrated wickets – in fact, he actively wanted me to do it. My energy and passion for playing for England resonated with him.
He always got the best out of me and several other cricketers from different backgrounds, and would make the point that he only ever wanted the best possible England team, regardless of race or religion.
That’s not to say he wasn’t interested in my background – he was, but only in a positive way. He was keen to know about my Sikh beliefs and how they had shaped my values and upbringing.
I remember him saying he needed to know about all religions because it would make him a better leader of men – it typified how his leadership skills and thinking were ahead of his time. On another occasion, I recall him saying "It gets boring if we are all the same”, and that different cultures would make for a stronger dressing room.
We would discuss it regularly, and I used to call him by his Sikh name "Mandeep". He loved that and when he got runs he would say to me: "The Sikh gods must be happy with me today". This is what dressing room culture should be about – brotherhood, unity, humour and respect.
I cannot reconcile the man I know with the one who has been the subject of these allegations, and it is striking to me that no other players – either from Yorkshire or England – have come forward to make claims about his behaviour. If he was a racist, surely we would have heard from other players?
I am not saying Rafiq is a liar or that there were no deep-rooted problems at Yorkshire during his time at the club. I know Vaughan would be the first to admit he could have done more as a senior player and advisor to Yorkshire to clamp down on that culture, but that doesn't make him a racist, and does not mean he deserves to see his career and reputation torn apart.
It feels like the BBC and BT have taken the easy option by blocking him from broadcasting this winter. The BBC say they do not want him commenting on a story in which he features, but that should not stop him analysing the Ashes.
Cricket has serious issues to confront in terms of endemic racism, many of which have been highlighted by Rafiq’s evidence provided to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
But to blacklist one of the best England captains we have produced on the basis of historic and still unproven allegations feels wrong, and a distortion of natural justice.
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Michael Vaughan does not deserve to see his reputation trashed by the BBC and BT without due process have 912 words, post on www.telegraph.co.uk at November 26, 2021. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.