Gary Ballance apologizes for his racist comments on Azeem Rafiq

Gary Ballance has issued an unreserved apology for using “racist” language towards Azeem Rafiq when the two were team-mates at Yorkshire.

“I have wanted to meet Azeem in person for quite some time, but I had to make sure I was in a good place when I did so,” Ballance said. "Azeem has been through similar mental health challenges and understands why this has taken me a little time.

"I apologise unreservedly to Azeem for the words I used when we played together. I did use unacceptable - at times, racist - language. If I had realised how much this hurt Azeem, I would have stopped immediately. That’s why I wanted to meet him this week and be clear in person that I intended no malice. That’s not an excuse, I realise that the language I used was wrong.

“I have accepted, from the outset, the words I used were wrong and I hope this statement brings Azeem some comfort. There is no place in our sport for this behaviour and I am determined to play my part in ridding the game from racism and make it more inclusive. To do this we all need to be honest and learn from our past mistakes.”

Rafiq told The Cricketer that he had accepted Ballance’s apology and said that his “courage means he is now part of the solution” in the fight against the problem of racism within the game.