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Michael Vaughan faces his biggest battle after Adil Rashid’s support of Azeem Rafiq’s claim of racism

It will always be considered one of Ashes’ greatest victories. Surely, nothing will match the scenes of 2005 when the entire country, it seems, cheered on England to what became a legendary triumph over Australia.

How long that must seem to the architect of that magical summer, the captain who will go down in cricket legend as the man who finally got the ballot box back after a nearly 20-year losing streak and started a rebirth from the English ashes. Michael Vaughan’s legacy threatens to be very different now.

He will be remembered most for being one of the leading figures in the racial scandal shaking the English game, unless he can persuade a skeptical public that he didn’t really utter those fateful words: ‘Too many of you. We will have to do something about it. ‘

Vaughan certainly has a great job on his hands. Well now he has to deal with two other players who corroborate Azeem Rafiq’s accusations that will be repeated in parliament on Tuesday.

Adil Rashid’s intervention on Monday could be a game changer. Here’s a star from England who has spent his career having as little media connection as possible and a man who surely wouldn’t get involved in this sorry saga unless he felt strongly about it.

Michael Vaughan faces his biggest battle amid accusations of racism while in Yorkshire

Michael Vaughan faces his biggest battle amid accusations of racism while in Yorkshire

Could it have been invented by three players, Rafiq, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and now Rashid? Or were they even wrong in what they heard?

Unless Vaughan can convince us that they are lying, his second career as one of the best experts in the game will surely be over. It is very difficult, for example, to see Vaughan continue as the face of BBC cricket when they are central to the game’s desire to appeal to a young and diverse audience across the Hundred.

The timing of Rashid’s statement could not be more damaging for Vaughan either, as it comes on the eve of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing, which is potentially explosive on Tuesday.

Rafiq will face MPs not only with parliamentary privileges, but with the confidence that comes from having the support of his former colleagues.

Vaughan was back to the forefront on Monday, making what was his most vehement denial yet of the allegations against him. Significantly, there were none of his beloved posts on Twitter, where he has so often inadvertently revealed the less likeable and more confrontational side of his personality.

He is accused of saying, 'Too many of you here.  We will have to do something about it 'with the Asian players before a game in 2009

He is accused of saying, 'Too many of you here.  We will have to do something about it 'with the Asian players before a game in 2009

He is accused of saying, ‘Too many of you here. We will have to do something about it ‘with the Asian players before a game in 2009

The Englishman Adil Rashid has corroborated the accusation of his former partner Azeem Rafiq

The Englishman Adil Rashid has corroborated the accusation of his former partner Azeem Rafiq

The Englishman Adil Rashid has corroborated the accusation of his former partner Azeem Rafiq

Instead, a long, passionate and professional statement was sent to the Press Association highlighting the video that was shown repeatedly on Monday on Sky Sports News of the infamous pre-match meeting at Trent Bridge in 2009 in the middle of the storm.

Vaughan shakes hands with each of the four players of Asian descent, who together were making Yorkshire history that day. And there are Rafiq, Rashid, Naved and Ajmal Shahzad, the only player involved who has not backed up Rafiq’s claims, smiling at the senior player and England legend among them.

It doesn’t seem like they were offended by something they were supposed to have said shortly before this meeting. But then what were three young team members with very different backgrounds and one foreign player destined to do?

It can be a defense mechanism to laugh at offensive behavior posing as jokes. And it would have taken a very strong young player to say, ‘Wait, you can’t say that’, before a game against Notts in front of a huge crowd and television cameras.

Rafiq is set to testify before a select committee of DCMS on Tuesday in Westminster.

Rafiq is set to testify before a select committee of DCMS on Tuesday in Westminster.

Rafiq is set to testify before a select committee of DCMS on Tuesday in Westminster.

Vaughan, then, is symbolic of this growing crisis but, with Yorkshire, the ECB and the game at large bracing for the dirty laundry to be publicly laundered in Westminster on Tuesday, more damaging revelations emerged that left cricket reeling.

The evidence from a second player who alleged racism in Essex, Maurice Chambers, was certainly a grim reading and made it perfectly clear that Yorkshire is far from the only county fully embroiled in a scandal that drops more shocking news every day.

It was also Essex that had to effectively force its president, John Faragher, to resign when it became clear last week that an accusation of racism had been made against him as early as 2017, but that was ignored when it was reported to the ECB.

Yet it should be somehow encouraging for the game that so many victims are being empowered to come forward now that cricket is finally confronting what can only be described as institutionalized historical racism.

Vaughan is now fighting to save his reputation after having led England to glory from the ashes.

Vaughan is now fighting to save his reputation after having led England to glory from the ashes.

Vaughan is now fighting to save his reputation after having led England to glory from the ashes.

It's hard to see Vaughan continue as a cricket expert if he can't refute the allegations.

It's hard to see Vaughan continue as a cricket expert if he can't refute the allegations.

It’s hard to see Vaughan continue as a cricket expert if he can’t refute the allegations.

And at least Essex, in the form of its new CEO John Stephenson, is being proactive and seemingly sincere in its desire for justice by addressing the allegations head-on rather than doing what Yorkshire did and burying its head in the sand.

If Yorkshire had handled this better in so many twists along the way, since Rafiq’s allegations were made public last year, then perhaps cricket wouldn’t be in such a big mess now. And it’s a disaster, with many, many more chances of it coming out before this improves.

Michael Vaughan faces the equivalent of going to bat against Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne on a final day test pitch that needs 500 to win.

It’s a bigger battle than any he faced in the Ashes of 2005.

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