Azeem Rafiq: ECB recommends fines and bans for ex-Yorkshire cricketers who used racist language

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Gary Ballance is one of six former Yorkshire players found to have used racist slurs

The England and Wales Cricket Board have deemed that former England batter Gary Ballance should be fined £8,000 and banned for eight weeks for using racist language during his time at Yorkshire Cricket Club.

Ballance is one of six former Yorkshire cricket players found to have use racist slurs at the club by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) panel in March and all of the charges have stemmed from claims made by the former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq.

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The ECB have also recommended a combination of fines, suspensions, reprimands and education courses for the former England bowlers Tim Bresnan and Matthew Hoggard, former Yorkshire captain and coach Andrew Gale, former Scotland bowler John Blain and the former Yorkshire allrounder Richard Pyrah.

All five aforementioned former members of the Yorkshire club did not appear before the independent CDC panel after withdrawing from the process and they also did not provide written submissions for this hearing which took place on Wednesday 3 May.

What are the charges?

Former England captain Michael Vaughan had been accused of using racial slurs but was recently cleared “on the balance of probabilities” by the panel and the sanctions against Yorkshire, who themselves admitted to four amended charges, will be discussed at a hearing in June.

Ballance and Rafiq batting together at Yorkshire in August 2013Ballance and Rafiq batting together at Yorkshire in August 2013
Ballance and Rafiq batting together at Yorkshire in August 2013 | Getty Images

In regards to Gary Ballance, 33, the ECB said his fine should be reduced from £12,500 and the suspension reduced from 10 weeks to eight because he admitted guilt and apologised to his former friend and teammate. It also said that Ballance should go on an education course if he intends to return to cricket in a playing or coaching capacity.

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The batter’s lawyer, Craig Harris, argued that the financial penalty should be reduced because his involvement in the proceedings had led to the end of Ballance’s career with Yorkshire and loss of a sponsorship contract.

Matthew Hoggard was found to have used two racist slurs. He denied racist intent to his language and an allegation saying he used the term “you lot” in reference to Asian players was not proved.

The 2005 Ashes winner has been suggested to receive a £7,500 fine - reduced from £9,000 - because he admitted part of the charge against him. He was also strongly urged to take an education course at his own expense, particularly if he intends to return to cricket.

Fast bowler Tim Bresnan may be given a £5,000 fine after he was found to have used a racial slur towards Rafiq’s sister and other Asian women. It has also been recommended that he attends an education course.

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Scottish bowler Blain was also handed a £5,000 fine recommendation and told to go on an education course after he was found to have used a racist phrase to describe Asian individuals during his time as Yorkshire coach, charges which he strongly denied.

The ECB have suggested Andrew Gale received a £7,500 fine, a reprimand and a four-week suspension if he were to return to coaching ECB-regulated cricket. It has also encouraged him to attend an education course at his own expense.

The former Yorkshire coach was found to have used two racist slurs towards Rafiq as well as using one towards Mosun Hussain, a Yorkshire Academy player. Gale also denied the allegations.

Richard Pyrah’s recommended punishment is £4,000 as well as a two-week suspension if he continues coaching. He was found to have used a racial slur towards Rafiq’s sister.

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The ECB also added that all five players would have been suspended if they were still playing. However Bresnan retired in January 2022, Gale in 2016, Pyrah in 2015, Hoggard in 2013 and Blain’s last top-level match took place in 2010.

What’s been said?

Blain released a statement on Wednesday in which he said the outcome of the proceedings were “depressingly predictable and wholly unjust”. He has also launched a crowdfunding page in a bid to clear his name through legal action.

The Scottish bowler added: “Despite being entirely innocent of these allegations, I was advised by my lawyers to withdraw from the inadequate ECB process, due to its many fundamental flaws.

“The evidence given was one-sided, partial and in some areas, simply untrue - I have never used such language. This is supported by many independent witnesses, many of whom were team-mates.”

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