BT Sport have announced they will be using commentary from Australia’s Fox Sports during the Ashes but could switch to a different team of pundits when Michael Vaughan is on air after he was named in Azeem Rafiq’s damning allegations of racism at Yorkshire.
Rafiq told MPs last month of the ‘inhuman’ treatment he suffered during his time at Yorkshire, with former England captain Vaughan among a number of figures implicated in the case.
Vaughan, who led England to their historic Ashes win in 2005, denied claims he said ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’ to Rafiq and three other Asian players before a Yorkshire match in 2009.
He was taken off of the BBC punditry team for the upcoming Ashes tour of Australia due to a potential ‘conflict of interest’.
But Vaughan, who announced on Wednesday he has had to delay his flight to Australia because of a positive Covid test and could miss the first match of the series, is still due to work for Fox Sports over the winter.
BT Sport will use commentary from Fox Sports during the Ashes but could switch to a different team when Michael Vaughan is on
BT Sport are not setting up their own punditry team for the series though and confirmed on Wednesday they will be taking a commentary feed from Fox, the host broadcasters.
However, a BT Sport statement said that including Vaughan on their coverage ‘would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values’ and that they will be using a ‘hybrid approach’ to keep him off of their channels.
It read: ‘As a result of COVID and travel restrictions BT Sport had made the decision to take our commentary feed from the Australian host broadcaster.
‘The recent report presented to UK Parliament uncovering institutional racism within cricket and specifically Yorkshire County Cricket Club is extremely disappointing and a concern for all.
‘Given these recent events and the controversy with the situation we have taken the decision that including Michael Vaughan within our Ashes coverage would not be editorially appropriate or fit with BT Sport’s values.
‘We are still finalising plans but we are assessing the option of taking a hybrid approach, using Fox commentary where possible with the aim of putting our own commentary team in place if necessary.’
Vaughan was implicated in the damning allegations of racism at Yorkshire by Azeem Rafiq
Vaughan announced he has had to delay his flight to Australia because of a positive Covid test
Earlier on Wednesday, the BBC offered Vaughan a lifeline and said they ‘expect to work with him again’ after holding ‘positive conversations’.
A statement by the BBC read: ‘We’re in regular contact with Michael and have had positive conversations with him in recent days.
‘Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael’s involvement in a story of such significance means it’s not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment.
‘We’re pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC.’
On his positive Covid test, Vaughan tweeted: ‘I’ve had to delay my flight to Australia until next week because of a positive Covid test, which is frustrating.
‘But at least I’ll avoid the rain in Brisbane for a few days! And I’ll be no more under cooked than both teams when I get there.!! #Ashes’.
Vaughan denied racially abusing Rafiq in his first television interview since the allegations
In an interview with BBC Breakfast shown last Saturday, Vaughan said it ‘hurts deeply’ that Rafiq was ‘treated so badly at the club that I love.’
He said: ‘I’m sorry for the hurt (Rafiq’s) gone through. Time I don’t think can ever be a healer in the situation that he’s gone through.
‘But hopefully time can be a way of us making sure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club never goes through this situation again and never puts themselves in a position of denial that they treated a player so badly.
‘It hurts deeply, hurts me that a player has gone through so much (and) be treated so badly at the club that I love.
‘I have to take some responsibility for that because I played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club for 18 years and if in any way shape or form I’m responsible for any of his hurt, I apologise for that.’
Vaughan accepted the BBC’s decision to exclude him from their Ashes coverage, with England’s first Test in Australia starting on December 8.
Rafiq claims that Vaughan said ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’ towards Yorkshire’s Asian players before a match in 2009
‘I won’t be doing the Ashes which I understand, the editorial at the moment is all about Azeem Rafiq and racism in the game of cricket. I get that,’ said the 47-year-old.
‘I just hope in time I get that chance to come back. The one thing I love more than anything since I retired is talking cricket. I love being on Test Match Special and hopefully in time I get that chance to do it again.’
Rafiq’s account of the incident involving Vaughan was backed by former Pakistan bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and England leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who said they heard the comment.
When asked if the trio were lying Vaughan said: ‘The problem with this situation is that we’ve got too much ‘he said, he said, she said, did they say’ and I think we’ve got to move on from accusations of conversations from many years ago.
‘There’s a bigger picture here.’
Vaughan was England skipper from 2003 to 2008 and played his entire domestic career at Yorkshire between 1993 and 2009.
Vaughan will be in Australia commentating as Joe Root and England try to regain the Ashes
‘(The alleged incident) was my last few games and I just remember it clearly that I was proud as punch that we had four Asian players representing Yorkshire County Cricket Club,’ he said.
‘Nothing but a proud, senior, old pro just about to retire and absolutely delighted that Yorkshire had come so far in my time at the club.’
Last week the England and Wales Cricket board published a 12-point, game-wide action plan to tackle racism and all forms of discrimination.
England managing director Ashley Giles revealed there had been lots of reflection from within the team’s Ashes squad in the wake of the racism scandal.
Giles also warned cricket would ‘have a problem’ in the fight against racism unless it gave people ‘second chances’.