Gary Ballance breaks cover amid cricket racism storm

Gary Ballance breaks cover amid racism storm: Ex-England cricketer is seen for first time since being named as player who branded Yorkshire Cricket Club teammate Azeem Rafiq a ‘P**i’

  • Former England international Gary Ballance, 31, was seen for the first time since cricket racism scandal broke 
  • He had a concerned look on his face as he wrapped up to walk his dog in the countryside this morning
  • Roger Hutton announced his resignation and slams the lack of ‘care and contrition’ in the Azeem Rafiq scandal
  • He believes the club’s chief executive, Mark Arthur, and director of cricket, Martyn Moxon, must also resign 
  • Another ex-Yorkshire player says he suffered ‘blatant and sly’ racism and was even ‘p***ed’ on by teammates  
  • Michael Vaughan was named in the Azeem Rafiq report – he denies being racist to Rafiq and other players
  • ECB has banned the club from hosting big matches and and Gary Ballance from England duty over the crisis

Ex-England international Gary Ballance has broken cover for the first time since he admitted using racist language towards his former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.

The 31-year-old – who is now barred from national duty over his handling of the crisis – had concern etched into his face as he took his dog for a walk.

Ballance appeared to be trying to keep a low profile as he drove to the countryside spot for the animal exercise earlier today.

Dressed in trainers, jogging bottom and a waterproof he had a black beanie hat pulled over the top of his head.

His trip out in public is the first since the racism scandal rocking cricket exploded earlier this week.

In September last year Ballance’s former Yorkshire Country Cricket Club team-mate Azeem Rafiq did an interview with ESPN Cricinfo where he said ‘institutional racism had left him considering killing himself.

The club vowed to investigate and this September released its findings, which said Rafiq was the ‘victim of racial harassment and bullying’ with seven of the 43 allegations made by the player upheld by an independent panel.

But in October Yorkshire announced its own internal investigation found ‘No conduct or action taken by any of its employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action’.

It led to Ballance being named as a player who used racist language and he said this week: ‘It has been reported that I used a racial slur and, as I told the independent enquiry, I accept that I did so and I regret doing so.

‘To be clear – I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years.’    

Former England international Gary Ballance, 31, was seen for the first time since cricket racism scandal broke this week


The former England cricketer appeared to be away with his thoughts as he was seen in the countryside with his pet

Ballance appeared to be trying to keep a low profile as he drove to the countryside spot for the animal exercise earlier today

Ballance looked crestfallen as he returned to a car near to the spot where he had been walking the dog today

Michael Vaughan admitted he was named in the Azeem Rafiq report but denied racism claims. It was claimed that he told a group of Yorkshire players with Asian heritage — including Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Pakistan ‘s Rana Naved — that there were ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’.

 It set into motion a domino effect which saw Michael Vaughan dragged further into the scandal today as he denied claims he was racist towards a group of Yorkshire’s British Asian players – only for one of the club’s star fast bowlers to publicly insist that he heard it.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan says he is willing to give evidence that Mr Vaughan said ‘there’s too many of you lot’, claiming he was next to Mr Rafiq at Trent Bridge in 2009 when Vaughan is alleged to have said it.

Last year Mr ul-Hasan, who played almost 100 tests and ODIs for Pakistan, said Asian players were regularly racially abused at Yorkshire – and ‘nobody did anything about it’, adding: ‘I fully support what Azeem said’. 

It came as Yorkshire’s chairman Roger Hutton quit today and tore into its management over the lack of ‘care and contrition’ shown to Azeem Rafiq after he was repeatedly called a ‘P*ki’. 

BBC pundit and former England captain Mr Vaughan himself revealed he is named in the report into alleged racism at the county, but said: The allegation hit me over the head like a brick but I have nothing to hide’.

It was claimed that he told a group of Yorkshire players with Asian heritage — including Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ajmal Shahzad and Pakistan ‘s Rana Naved — that there were ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’. He said last night: ‘I completely and categorically deny that I ever said those words’, and would be willing to meet Mr Rafiq to discuss it. 

Vaughan, 47, played for Yorkshire his entire career from 1993 to 2009, before moving into an advisory role at the club after retiring.    

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (pictueed) says he is willing to give evidence that Mr Vaughan said ‘there’s too many of you lot’, claiming he was next to Mr Rafiq at Trent Bridge in 2009 when Vaughan is alleged to have said it, according to ESPNcricinfo .

Writing in his Telegraph column, he said: ‘In December 2020 I was asked to speak to the independent panel formed by Yorkshire to investigate Rafiq’s claims.

Roger Hutton has announced his resignation as chairman of Yorkshire in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism allegations

‘The night before I was due to give evidence, out of the blue, I was hit with the news that Rafiq was alleging that in 2009 before a Yorkshire match against Nottinghamshire, I had said to Rafiq and two other Asian players as we walked on to the field together that there are ‘too many of you lot, we need to do something about it’.

‘This hit me very hard. It was like being struck over the head with a brick. I have been involved in cricket for 30 years and never once been accused of any remotely similar incident or disciplinary offence as a player or commentator. 

‘I completely and categorically deny that I ever said those words.’ 

Vaughan also denied a second claim in the report, that in his post-playing days he had advised Yorkshire chiefs in front of Rafiq that they should sign New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson due to his ability to bowl off-spin.

Rafiq claimed in the report that this was racism, intended as a direct threat to his own place in the team as a frontline spinner, with Williamson only a very occasional bowler.

‘It is because of my race, colour, ethnic origin, that Michael Vaughan made the comments that he did,’ said Rafiq. 


The former England captain, 47, said he is keen to meet Rafiq (right) to discuss the claims

How the Yorkshire Cricket Club scandal unfolded and what will happen next

2008-2018: Azeem Rafiq spends 10 years at Yorkshire CCC, becoming their youngest-ever captain and first of Asian origin in 2012.

September 2020: Yorkshire launch investigation as Rafiq reveals that ‘deep-rooted’ racism at the club left him ‘close to committing suicide’. ‘I would regularly come home from training and cry all day,’ he said. Accusations included people saying there was ‘too many of you lot’ referring to Rafiq and Asian team-mates.

December 2020: Rafiq files legal claim against the county, claiming he suffered ‘direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, as well as victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club’.

June 2021: Report is delayed and Rafiq’s lawyer says the pushbacks ‘create a lack of faith in the entire process’. Employment tribunal is held but parties fail to resolve the dispute.

August 2021: Yorkshire issue ‘profound apologies’ to Rafiq as report finds he was ‘the victim of inappropriate behaviour’. But they do not accept the claim of institutional racism – Rafiq accuses the county of ‘fudging’ his claims and promised he was ‘not going away’.

September 2021: ECB are ‘very concerned’ with the summary of the panel’s findings, with Yorkshire admitting Rafiq was the victim of ‘racial harassment and bullying’. 

But just seven of the 43 allegations made are upheld, with Yorkshire saying they do not intend to publish a full report.

October 2021: Yorkshire say they will not take disciplinary action against any of its employees following the report. Rafiq writes on Twitter that the club is ’embarrassing’, saying it gives a ‘green light’ to racism.

This week: Details of the report are published by ESPNcricinfo, including a senior player’s admission that he repeatedly used the word ‘P***’ in reference to Rafiq, which was deemed ‘banter’. Health secretary Sajid Javid said ‘heads should roll’, with the Prime Minister asking the ECB to investigate. 

Yesterday: MailOnline reveals the player was Rafiq’s former Yorkshire team-mate, England batsman Gary Ballance. Sponsors Anchor Butter, Yorkshire Tea and Emerald all cut ties with the club.

What’s next?: Rafiq, Yorkshire now ex-chairman Roger Hutton and director of cricket Martyn Moxon will give evidence to the DCMS committee on November 16. ‘Time for the full truth,’ said Rafiq on Tuesday. 

Yorkshire are facing commercial pressure with sponsors ending association, while legal claims are still not resolved.

Vaughan responded on Thursday night: ‘I would never have said that in front of a group. I saw the way Williamson played in Twenty20 cricket and recognised that we needed three-dimensional cricketers in our top four who could score runs, bowl overs and field well.

‘Never have I discriminated against anyone or judged a player based on race. All I ask and all I have ever asked is, ‘how can we improve as a team?’

‘By suggesting Yorkshire sign Williamson I was attempting to improve the team and my cricket knowledge suggests that was the right call.’

Vaughan, the second individual to reveal he is part of the report after Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance, said he is keen to meet Rafiq to discuss the claims.

‘In time, I am more than happy to meet with Azeem,’ he said. ‘I would welcome it. I would like to sit with him, listen to what he went through and understand his perspective. It has been very hard for me to communicate with him directly for legal reasons but I hope we can now talk in person and understand each other’s point of view.’

Yorkshire’s chairman quit today and tore into its management over the lack of ‘care and contrition’ shown to Azeem Rafiq after he was repeatedly called a ‘P*ki’.

Roger Hutton announced his resignation minutes after Tom Harrison, Chief Executive of the ECB, said he would ‘find it difficult’ for Mr Hutton to stay in his role. 

I n an incendiary statement he blasted Yorkshire’s ‘culture that refuses to accept change’ and said there was a ‘constant unwillingness from the Executive Board members and senior management to apologise and to accept racism’.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem. The Club should have recognised at the time the serious allegations of racism. I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the Board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition’, he said, adding that he believes the club’s chief executive, Mark Arthur, and director of cricket, Martyn Moxon, must also resign.

And dragging the ECB into the scandal he said: ‘I want to be clear that when I was made aware of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations, I immediately reached out to the ECB to ask for their help and intervention to support a robust inquiry. I was saddened when they declined to help as I felt it was a matter of great importance for the game as a whole. It is a matter of record that I have continually expressed my frustration at the ECB’s reluctance to act’.  

As the ECB banned Headingley from hosting international matches and barred Gary Ballance from England duty after he admitted calling Azeem Rafiq a ‘P*ki’, a number of board members are expected to quit.

A club statement said: ‘The Club would like to thank Roger for his work during his time as Chair. The Board of the Club is meeting today and will issue a further statement later in the day’.

As sponsors including Nike abandoned the Leeds-based cricketing institution, another former Yorkshire player has come forward with fresh claims of racial misconduct at the county. 

A man in a flat cap next to a sign that reads ‘YCCC racists shame our county and game’ that is displayed in a bus stop near Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Headingley Stadium

Yorkshire Cricket Club has faced fresh claims of racial misconduct from a former player

Which companies have already severed ties with Yorkshire over the toxic racism row?

  • Nike
  • Tetley’s
  • David Lloyd Clubs
  • Emerald Group
  • Yorkshire Tea
  • Anchor Butter
  • Age Partnership
  • Bagnalls
  • Harrogate spring water
  • NIC Services Group  

Pending:

  • JT Ellis (suspended) 
  • Simon Falk eye care (monitoring)
  • Krimpterm (reviewing) 

The player, who is of Asian heritage, said he was the victim of numerous instances of racist abuse, ‘both blatant and sly’, during his time at the club in the early 2000s and told MailOnline: ‘I had a player p*ss on my head’.

The club’s reputation is on the floor after the ECB, which runs cricket in England and Wales, said it was ‘clear’ Yorkshire’s handling of the issue was ‘wholly unacceptable and is causing serious damage to the reputation of the game’.

Last night another Asian player, who has asked not to be named because he does not want his family to know what he endured, described how he left the club disillusioned after saying he didn’t receive the same opportunities as white cricketers. He also says he was told his allegations would be looked into, which they never were.

In a statement that has not been made public but has been seen by Sportsmail, the player says it took him ‘several years to get myself together’ after his experiences at Yorkshire.

He added: ‘Everyone in the Asian cricketing community has known Yorkshire County Cricket Club is racist, yet somehow they have been able to cunningly continue with their agenda.

‘There are many Asian cricketers like myself who have had their careers ruined, but have moved on and taken the treatment on the chin. I salute them all, as it can’t have been easy.’

Yorkshire are already under pressure after revelations that batsman Gary Ballance called his former team-mate Rafiq a ‘P***’ — an epithet the club concluded was part of ‘friendly and good-natured banter’.

On Wednesday, Ballance apologised but not before sponsors began cutting ties with the county. 

The fresh claims by a second player against Yorkshire — which at this stage are only claims and have not yet been investigated — date back two decades and make for unpleasant reading. 

Gary Ballance apologised after calling his former team-mate Rafiq a ‘P***’ — an epithet Yorkshire concluded was part of ‘friendly and good-natured banter’.

The player said: ‘I experienced racism from fellow players both direct and indirect. Believe it or not, I had a player p*** on my head from the hotel bedroom above, as I was on the phone leaning out of my room window. Let alone the numerous racist comments both blatant and sly. The coach at the time said ignore it and that he would deal with it. They never did.’

In another story, the player said he overheard ‘senior players’ — both still involved at Yorkshire —talking about ‘how they ‘sh**ged a bird’ in the hotel room who was on her period and made a mess, and all they could find is a Muslim player’s prayer mat to clean it up. Sick or what. These are supposed to be your team-mates and people I looked up to.’

The player is understood to have been emboldened to speak out by Rafiq’s whistleblowing, which will be the subject of a hearing by the digital, culture, media and sport select committee on November 16, though the pair never crossed paths in county cricket. 

Yorkshire have apologised to Rafiq after an investigation into his claims of abuse upheld seven allegations. Yet another anecdote from the player makes claims of humiliating treatment at practice. ‘When catching balls during training, these ‘team-mates’ would intentionally throw the ball so hard from close range that it used to bruise my hands through the gloves,’ he said. ‘I remember having to miss out on a final once due to this injury. 

The coaches wouldn’t say a thing. I would have to toughen up, apparently.’ The statement went on: ‘I and others were used as a statistic. When people said Yorkshire were racist, their reply was: ‘How can we be — we have X amount of Asians on our books?’

‘I wasn’t given a single opportunity to play second XI cricket. How were they expecting my game to improve? Other white players were given chances in the second XI, and after failing initially, eventually they got used to the standard, which is what happens when playing with and against better players.’

After Sportsmail ran the allegations past Yorkshire, a spokesperson replied: ‘This behaviour would be completely unacceptable to the club. It goes without saying we will investigate thoroughly.’

Meanwhile, a peaceful ‘Justice for Azeem Rafiq’ gathering has been organised for Saturday at 3pm outside Headingley by Mohammed Patel, a human-rights lawyer and founder of Heaven Help Us Cricket Club, which supports charitable causes.

‘Everyone in the Asian cricketing community has known Yorkshire is racist,’ said the player

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton’s incendiary statement as he QUITS and says sorry to Azeem Rafiq

Roger Hutton’s statement in full:

‘Today I announce my resignation as chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with immediate effect. It is with great sadness to leave a Club I was immensely proud to serve and have loved since watching my first game from the old County Stand at the age of seven.

‘The Club has proud traditions and status as one of sports biggest brands and, as chairman, I had a vision for our Club which was shared by the non-executive members of the Board – we truly believed we could make the cultural changes to take it out of the past and into the future.

‘In August 2020, a former Yorkshire player and the youngest captain in the Club’s history – Azeem Rafiq – gave an interview to the well-respected cricketing publication, Wisden. In it he recounted his experience of playing Club cricket at Yorkshire, the racism he encountered and the mental anguish this caused him and his family.

‘This was a man who was calling for change, meaningful change for other young men and women facing the same challenges he faced in the sport he loved. Azeem left the Club in August 2018, 18 months before I joined the Board in April 2020.

‘I have never met Azeem and was not at the Club during the period he was employed. I know however, that when someone makes claims as serious as his, they need to be investigated and changes need to be made.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem. The Club should have recognised at the time the serious allegations of racism. I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the Board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition.

‘I remain disappointed that legal restrictions, including an ongoing employment tribunal, have prevented the investigation report from being published and look forward to the time that everyone can see its recommendations. I hope for it to be published as soon as possible.

‘I want to be clear that when I was made aware of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations, I immediately reached out to the ECB to ask for their help and intervention to support a robust inquiry. I was saddened when they declined to help as I felt it was a matter of great importance for the game as a whole.

‘It is a matter of record that I have continually expressed my frustration at the ECB’s reluctance to act. There has been a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the Board and senior management at the Club to apologise, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward. For much of my time at the Club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.

‘During my time as chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action. This frustration has been shared by all of the non-executive members of the Board, some of whom have also now resigned. I now call for those executive members of the Board to resign, to make way for a new path for the Club I love so much.

‘I will of course continue to fully cooperate with the ECB and the invitation to give evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee.

‘The Club has some brilliant people and has done much to be proud of, particularly the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, and I want to see more grassroots education in the game to put an end to racism for good.

‘I look forward to the time when Yorkshire County Cricket Club is a great Club again and will always support those who share my love for the Club and wish our supporters and team well.’

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