Fines and bans recommended for players charged in Yorkshire racism scandal

The England and Wales Cricket Board has recommended fines totaling £37,000 for the players accused in the Yorkshire racism scandal.

Former England international Gary Ballance bore the brunt of it with a recommended £8,000 fine and an eight-week ban.

Ballance, one of six people connected to the club accused of using racist language in the case stemming from allegations made by former Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq, had already admitted to the charges brought against him by the ECB.

The suspension appears to be of little consequence given that Ballance announced his retirement from the game last month, although at age 33 he could theoretically return.

The ECB took into account the fact that Ballance had admitted the charge and apologized as it gave its recommendations to the independent panel of the Cricket Disciplinary Commission.

ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy KC said: “We understand that 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.

“So, the ECB therefore suggests that there be a reprimand, and that Mr Ballance be fined £8,000, reduced from £12,500 to make his admissions effective.

“We also suggest that a strong recommendation be made that you attend a racism and discrimination course at your own expense, particularly if you are attending to return to the game as a player or coach.

“And also an eight-week ban, reduced from 10, if Mr Ballance ever returns to ECB-regulated cricket as a player.”

Ballance’s attorney, Craig Harris, argued that the financial penalty should be reduced due to the cost of participating in the process; namely, that he lost his playing job at Yorkshire, he lost an endorsement deal and was not considered for the England squad.

Gary Ballance was the most affected in the recommended punishments

(PA file)

Harris also pointed to culture in the Yorkshire dressing room for over a decade, including the widespread use of the term ‘P***’, which was eventually exposed by Rafiq’s bombshell testimony in 2021, and that Zimbabwean-born Ballance, was the subject. of discriminatory comments.

He said: “This is not a case where Mr Ballance says the words were not discriminatory, or that he has some kind of intellectual deficit. It is accepted that he should have known better.

“Even if it’s used in a humorous sense, it’s just a ‘joke’ because they’re playing into a bias, so I’m not going as far as saying those rules weren’t violated.

“But they were raped by someone who lived and played within a culture where the use of that language had become normalized and where there seems to be a degree of playful mutual acceptance that should have no place in a locker room or in society – it developed.

“The language got worse all the time the squad was together and there was no intervention from the club to eradicate it. He is someone who himself accepted such jokes towards him.”

Yorkshire has admitted to four charges, including “failing to address the systemic use of racist and/or discriminatory language over a prolonged period”.

Sanctions against the club are expected to be announced next month.

The other five former Yorkshire players facing charges – John Blain, Tim Bresnan, Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard and Richard Pyrah – had previously withdrawn from disciplinary proceedings and provided no written submissions. The charges against him were heard in his absence in March.

The ECB recommended that former Yorkshire captain and manager Gale be fined £7,500 and banned for four weeks if he returned to coaching.

Hoggard should be fined £7,500, Bresnan and Blain £5,000 each and Pyrah £4,000, the ECB said.

However, as if to illustrate the ECB’s dubious handling of the whole downer episode, Mulcahy admitted not knowing if Pyrah was still training, but recommended a two-week suspension anyway.

All five, Mulcahy said, would have been suspended from playing if they were still active. Hoggard, for example, is now 46 years old and retired almost 10 years ago.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was the only one of the seven players initially charged to appear at the hearing and was cleared of using racist language.

The latest in a seemingly endless series of hearings ended with a warning from CDC Chairman Tim O’Gorman: “It will take time for the decisions to be fully made and available in writing. That will take several weeks.”

Former Scotland international Blain described the outcome of the proceedings against him as a “depressingly predictable and totally unfair decision” when he launched a GoFundMe page in a bid to clear his name through legal action.

Blain added in a statement: “Despite being completely innocent of these allegations, I was advised by my lawyers to withdraw from the ECB’s improper process, due to its many fundamental flaws.

“The evidence provided was one-sided, biased, and in some areas just plain false – I have never used that language. This is backed up by many independent witnesses, many of whom were teammates.

“I am enormously indebted to the thousands of people in the global cricket community, many, many of them of Asian origin, who have shown me such unwavering support.

“I remain determined to take whatever legal action is necessary to clear my name and have launched a GoFundMe page for that purpose.”

Leave a Comment