Azeem Rafiq claimed some England players had used the word ‘Kevin’ as a slur directed at non-white team-mates – but Giles says he has never heard it used in the dressing room.
The managing director of the England cricket team insists he has never heard the word ‘Kevin’ used in a derogatory way in the national side’s dressing room.
Ongoing revelations about the extent of racism and discrimination in the sport uncovered that the name was allegedly used in the past as a slur aimed at non-white players.
Whistleblower Azeem Rafiq gave evidence in front of a Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee earlier this month, during which he claimed the word had been used in a discriminatory manner by some of his former teammates.
Rafiq said it was an “open secret” in the national team dressing room, and also claimed that batter Alex Hales had named his pet dog Kevin as a joke because it is black.
Hales “categorically” denied that claim, and said he would co-operate with any investigation into the matter deemed necessary by authorities.
And Ashley Giles, who was an England regular during his playing days, said he has never heard the word ‘Kevin’ used in such a context.
“For the record, I’ve never heard – I’m not going to repeat it – that term used in our dressing room in relation to anyone from any background or minority,” he said from England’s hotel in Brisbane ahead of the Ashes.
“I’ve been involved in cricket for 30 years and I’m sure there will be incidents and things I’ve said that I wouldn’t be proud of in a different time and context.
“But, in my time in cricket, I cannot recall any discrimination with an intent to harm by word or by action.
“But have things been said in dressing-rooms that could have hurt? Yes, quite possibly. If that has happened in any dressing-room I’ve been involved with, we can only apologise.
“Shared humour has been in dressing rooms for as long as I’ve played, It’s a big reason we play the game. Two-way humour – can we call it banter? – has always been there.”
Rafiq said Vaughan had told a group of Asian players that there were “too many of you lot” in 2009 – a claim the former England skipper has repeatedly denied.
Vaughan has since been removed from his radio show with Phil Tuffnell and has been axed by the BBC for its coverage of the Ashes.
But Giles called for “tolerance” for those who have made past mistakes, and urged for people to be given “a second chance”.
“I believe tolerance is really important. We all make mistakes and we will again. We have to tolerate and re-educate otherwise people are not going to open up and share their experiences,” he added.
“It’s completely right there is no tolerance of racism but, if zero tolerance means we cut people off and don’t give them a second chance, then we have a problem. The gap may widen and not lessen.
“We must do much better. Discrimination in any form is not acceptable. The England players have almost learned most from speaking to each other and that’s really healthy.
“I’m very proud of the diversity in the England team. I’d go as far as say the players love each other. It tells me that one thing we need to major on is education. At times, we’re afraid to talk about these matters.
“In all my time in cricket, I don’t think I’ve had one meaningful bit of training on equality and diversity and discrimination.”