Director of cricket Martyn Moxon and head coach Andrew Gale were two among 16 members of staff axed in the fallout from the racism scandal that has engulfed the club. Ballance was named in a report into allegations of institutional racism made by Azeem Rafiq, with the former England batter revealed to have called Rafiq a ‘p***’ repeatedly. Ballance apologised to Rafiq in a lengthy statement.
The Yorkshire Post, one of the oldest newspapers in the country, is an influential and respected publication in the region.
“[Ballance] was outed as the team-mate who frequently used the ‘P’ word towards Rafiq a month before the DCMS hearing,” Yorkshire Post sports editor Nick Westby wrote. “He released a statement saying he ‘regretted’ the incidents took place, but stopped short of apologising.
“Ballance is still at the club having signed a new three-year deal at the end of the season just gone. But again ask yourself, what player of Asian descent, or from any ethnic background or minority, would feel comfortable going to play cricket for a Yorkshire team with Ballance still in the dressing room as a senior figure? If Lord Patel wants to ‘move on from the past to become a culture which is progressive and inclusive’ then Ballance has to go as well.”
In Ballance’s statement, he apologised to Rafiq for the language he used, but also hit out at the media for “the misleading and selective nature of the reporting”, and suggested that “the language used was in a ‘friendly verbal attack’” rather than anything malicious. “My family and I are deeply saddened and upset by the allegations recently levelled at me in the press and by the misleading and selective nature of the reporting in the last few days,” Ballance wrote. “Azeem was not just a teammate of mine but he was my closest friend and supporter in cricket.
“Throughout this process I have cooperated with the independent investigation and I have been completely honest and transparent with the club and the investigators at all times. Information and allegations have been leaked and reported in the press which in my view give a misleading impression of the evidence which was heard in the investigation. I had not intended to make any public statement but, given the reports which have been published, and with journalists arriving at my house, I feel I have no choice but to provide a public response.
“To be clear – I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years. The independent enquiry, having heard all of the evidence, accepted that the context of some of the language used was in a “friendly verbal attack” between friends which was not intended to offend or hurt and that no malice was intended.”
Ballance is one of Yorkshire’s most senior players, having scored more than 13,000 runs for the club across formats. A former club captain, he made his debut for Yorkshire in 2008
The decision over Ballance’s future is a delicate one for the club, with some players reportedly threatening to leave over the decision to sack more than a dozen members of staff, with the possibility of employment tribunals also looming. According to The Times, Yorkshire CCC parted ways with all those who signed a letter criticising Rafiq’s behaviour while employed at Yorkshire and the club for apologising to Rafiq.
The same story reported that Yorkshire are preparing for the possibility of relegation, with the ECB still yet to make known their final sanction for the club.