England's Rashid backs up Rafiq over racism allegation

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Nov 15 (Reuters) - England leg-spinner Adil Rashid on Monday became the third player to say he heard Michael Vaughan question the number of players of Asian heritage turning out for Yorkshire in 2009, an allegation the former England captain has denied.

The BBC dropped Vaughan from a radio show earlier this month after he was named in a report looking into allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire made by former player Azeem Rafiq.

The racism row has stunned English cricket. It has cost Yorkshire the right to host England internationals and has also sucked in Yorkshire player and current England captain Joe Root.

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"I can confirm Azeem Rafiq's recollection of Michael Vaughan's comments to a group of us Asian players," Rashid, who has played for Yorkshire since 2006, said in a statement on Monday.

Vaughan, who earlier this month denied telling Rafiq and three other Asian players that there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it" before a Yorkshire match in 2009, reiterated his stance in a statement to the British media on Monday.

"I categorically deny saying the words attributed to me by Azeem Rafiq and want to re-state this publicly because the 'you lot' comment simply never happened," Vaughan said.

"It is extremely upsetting that this completely false accusation has been made against me by a former team mate, apparently supported by two other players."

"For some time, Ajmal Shahzad has been on record as saying that he never heard me say what has been suggested. I have been in contact with the six other players from that team and not one of them has any recollection of the remark being made."

Yorkshire chairman Kamlesh Patel, who replaced former chairman Roger Hutton following his resignation earlier this month over the club's handling of the matter, said he had been in touch with Rashid.

"I'm aware of the recent statement from Adil Rashid, and I welcome his courage in speaking up," Patel said on Yorkshire's website.

"I have been in touch with Adil personally today so that we can talk through the issues as soon as he is ready and able."

Rashid is the second player to back Rafiq's version of events after former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who played for Yorkshire in 2008-2009.

Rafiq's allegations of facing institutional racism while a Yorkshire player between 2008 and 2018 have led to an exodus of sponsors and a series of resignations from top executives at the club.

The governing England and Wales Cricket Board in early November suspended Yorkshire from hosting internationals or major matches over their handling of the allegations.

Rafiq and senior Yorkshire executives are due to give evidence before a parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport panel on Tuesday.

Rashid welcomed that process in his statement: "I'm encouraged by the fact that a parliamentary committee seems to be trying to improve the situation, whether that's holding people accountable or getting changes made at an institutional level."

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Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Shrivathsa Sridhar and Hugh Lawson

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