Gary Ballance to leave Yorkshire County Cricket Club to seek 'fresh start'

The batter will not be able to play for another County Championship club until the 2024 season. Credit: PA Images

Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) have agreed to release batter Gary Ballance after he asked to end his contract early to seek a "fresh start" in the game. 

The left-handed batter and former England international requested to leave following a "challenging period" on the sidelines.

Ballance was named by Azeem Rafiq as one of the Yorkshire team-mates who used racially discriminatory language, claims Ballance admitted and apologised for during a meeting between the former friends earlier this year.

The 33-year-old is also facing an England and Wales Cricket Board charge of bringing the game into disrepute.

He did not make a single first team appearance last season, having been implicated in the ongoing racism row which has plagued Yorkshire since Rafiq's evidence to MPs in November 2021.

A club statement said Ballance had faced challenges to his mental health during this time and that it's supported him "extensively". 

Ballance said it had been a "privilege" to play for Yorkshire but that after deciding with his family that it was "right to make a change" he approached the club about an early release.

Gary Ballance was one of the people named by Azeem Rafiq while giving evidence about racism at Yorkshire CCC to the DCMS Select Committee Credit: UK Government

His contract had two more years to run until 2024, and as part of the release agreement he will not be able to play for another County Championship team for for the 2023 season, including T20 and one-day games. 

In a statement, Ballance said: "I am grateful for [the club's] understanding as we have reached agreement. 

“The support Yorkshire has given me off the pitch over the past year has been fantastic and I am appreciative of the Club’s help, but I hope that my decision will mean that my career can have a fresh start."

Managing director of YCCC Darren Gough said: "We are sad to see Gary go, but he leaves with our best wishes.

"He has been a mainstay of our side for many years, and a superb batsman. As a club, we recognise that the last 18 months have been difficult for Gary, for numerous reasons, and the most important thing for him is to get better and play again.

"He felt he could not do this at Headingley, and we agreed to his request reluctantly but knowing that it was the right decision for him personally."

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