The ECB has recommended an eight-week ban and £8000 fine for Gary Ballance
for bringing the game into disrepute through the use of racist language against Azeem Rafiq
while the pair were at Yorkshire. The board also recommended a combination of fines and suspensions for five other former players at a Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) sanction hearing on Wednesday.
The players were found guilty
of bringing the game into disrepute by using racist language by the independent three-person CDC panel at the end of March, after a five-day hearing conducted at the start of that month. The charges laid against them, as well as Yorkshire, came from claims originally made by Rafiq and covered a period of nearly a decade from 2008. The panel cleared former England captain Michael Vaughan
of having made a racist remark before a T20 game in June 2009.
As well as Ballance, the ECB asked for a combination of fines, suspensions, reprimands and education courses for Matthew Hoggard
, Tim Bresnan
, Andrew Gale
, Richard Pyrah and John Blain
– all of whom either played at Yorkshire, or worked as coaches while Rafiq was there. The ECB asked for Hoggard and Pyrah to be fined £7500 each, Bresnan and Blain £5000 and Pyrah £4500 and asked for all six to receive reprimands from the CDC and to take part in a racism and discrimination course. They have also recommended a four-week suspension for Gale, should he return to coaching in cricket run by the ECB.
Vaughan was the only one of those charged who appeared to defend himself at the hearings. While Ballance had admitted to using the term “P***” among other racist phrases, Bresnan, Gale, Pyrah and Blain have denied all charges against them. The four were found guilty of using racist slurs that ranged from terms such as “you lot” to “P****” on multiple occasions.
As well as Ballance, Hoggard made a qualified admission to similar charges, denying that he used the language with any racist intent. Those admissions led to the ECB asking for reduced fines in both cases. “We understand there has been a significant impact on Mr Ballance’s mental health, and that, in April 2023, Mr Ballance announced his retirement from professional cricket,” Jane Mulcahy KC, legal counsel for the ECB, told the panel. “So the ECB therefore suggests there be a reprimand, Mr Ballance be fined £8,000, reduced from £12,500, to take in effect his admissions. And also an eight-week suspension, reduced from 10 weeks, if Mr Ballance ever returns to ECB-regulated cricket as a player.”
Ballance retired recently
from all cricket, having first left Yorkshire late last year and then switched to play for his native Zimbabwe. He played one Test for them scoring a hundred, and eight internationals overall before he announced his retirement.
The CDC panel will now deliberate over the recommendations before returning final sanctions on the players which could take several more weeks yet.
Yorkshire were also found guilty by the CDC panel last month, having admitted to four charges laid against them. Their sanctions will be discussed at another hearing on 27 June.