Michael Vaughan did not say the "you lot" comment alleged by Azeem Rafiq, according to a key witness, who claims Matthew Hoggard might have said it instead.
The Ashes-winning former England captain is among former Yorkshire players facing a disciplinary hearing in March, but he has repeatedly denied Rafiq's claim about a derogatory slur in 2009.
According to Rafiq, Vaughan said "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it" within earshot of Rafiq, Ajmal Shahzad, Adil Rashid and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.
Shahzad, who has previously said he had no recollection of hearing the expression, now says the comment would have been more likely to have come from Hoggard, whom he refers to as "a bad bloke".
"The only person in that dressing room who would sometimes use phrases that you would think… and yes, who'd you think might be getting close to the line, would be Hoggy," Ajmal reportedly says in a in a witness statement to be heard by the England and Wales Cricket Board's Cricket Discipline Commission.
According to a report on the Cricketer website, Shahzad says of Hoggard: "As much as he was a Yorkshire player, he would play for England a lot and when he came back into that Yorkshire dressing room he didn't last long, so he just didn't last long because bad blokes don't. Unless you are immensely skillful, you can get away with being a bad bloke for a bit. As soon as your form drops, you're gone. And that's… and I'd apply that to Azeem, I'd say that to Azeem as well."
Vaughan has strenuously denied the "you lot" claim and his defence team will want to cross examine Rashid in March after he backed up Rafiq’s claims.
Rashid had initially informed the CDC he would not be attending the hearing in London due to commitments in the T10 League in Abu Dhabi. Now the hearing has been delayed until March, it is unclear whether he is now attending.
'Asian players referred to themselves as 'P---s''
Ahead of the case, Hoggard, who is charged alongside others with bringing the game into disrepute, prepared a witness statement contesting the allegations. According to The Cricketer, Hoggard's statement says he "does not specifically remember using the term 'P---'", which was among a number of derogatory terms which Rafiq claims was repeatedly used during his playing career.
However, Hoggard, who was unavailable for immediate comment, is said to concede he used the phrase "Rafa the Kaffir" when addressing Rafiq. He is said to claim the context was not racist, but the statement points towards widespread use of the 'P word' in the dressing room.
"[Hoggard] accepts having been part of group chats and the like when it [the term 'P---'] was used and that he contributed to the generality of such conversations," the statement reportedly says.
"The word had been widely used throughout the squad, because a number of players of ethnic minority referred to themselves as such, so it became used with what appeared to be implied consent and without any racial/discriminatory abuse or harm intended."
It adds: "I do recall that, from time to time, the word ['P---'] was used in the dressing room. In retrospect, I fully appreciate that wasn't a good thing to do and if indeed I had used that word, I acknowledge and accept that I shouldn't have, hence I admit breaking the applicable rule."
New panel to be formed to hear appeals
Last November the CDC accepted a request from Rafiq for the hearings to be held in public, breaking with decades of precedent of cases being held behind closed doors with written judgements handed down.
Players facing disciplinary proceedings are understood to have lodged appeals on different grounds, including disclosure of evidence and the hearing being public, as the case becomes mired in legal and logistical issues.
A new panel will now be formed by the CDC to hear the appeals, delaying the start of the case and meaning the toxic affair is going to drag on for several more months.
Rafiq was the chief witness in charges laid by the ECB against seven individuals and Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Vaughan was charged on one count and will appear in person to defend himself. Other individuals charged with bringing the game into disrepute include Tim Bresnan and former Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale.
There will be intense scrutiny on the CDC’s handling of the potentially explosive disciplinary hearing after more than 12 months of missteps in a racism scandal that has rocked cricket.
Gale has already publicly pulled out of the process, labelling it a “witch hunt”. Yorkshire will face more disruption in the coming months, with Lord Patel planning to quit as chairman at their next annual general meeting, which is also expected to be held in March.
The 62-year-old, who was parachuted into the role after the club’s racism scandal, announced he was stepping down on January 6 after a turbulent 14 months in charge.
The former ECB director had threatened to quit as long ago as March following the bitter civil war to engulf the country’s biggest county over their botched handling of Rafiq’s complaints of abuse.