Ex Zim cricket star in racial storm

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Gary Ballance

Kevin Mapasure
Former Zimbabwe Under 19 cricket team star Gary Ballance could find himself in trouble after admitting to using the slur P**i which is deemed racist towards a former Yorkshire team mate Azeem Rafiq.

Balance, who chose to play for England over Zimbabwe at senior level, has been forced to issue a statement admitting that he is the one who used the slur against Rafiq but insisted that it was all banter even though he “deeply regrets’ using such language.

He said that Rafiq was a friend and they used such language towards each other on friendly terms, even though it may be deemed inappropriate in different circumstances.

The 31 year old insisted that Rafiq had been his “closest friend and supporter in cricket”, whom he had once invited to stay at his family home in Zimbabwe.

A report into the matter was submitted to the England and Wales Cricket Board following Rafiq’s allegations that he had been racially abused.

In his defense, the left handed batter, who was born in Harare said: “P**i” was an equivalent term to “Zimbo”, the nickname that Rafiq was understood to have used for Ballance.

“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,” Ballance said. “To be clear – I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years.”

Balance last played for England in 2017 against South Africa in a Test match where he won his 23rd cap.

Back home in Zimbabwe he played for MidWest Rhinos between 2010 and 2012. He played at the Under 19 World Cup in 2006 where Zimbabwe finished top of Group D ahead of England and eventually settled for sixth place finish at the tournament.