Ex-England international Gary Ballance has said he “regrets” using a racial slur against his former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.
In a lengthy and emotional statement, Ballance said he was responsible for some of the offensive terms Rafiq was subjected to during his time at Headingley.
“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,” said Ballance, 31.
“To be clear – I deeply regret some of the language I used in my younger years.”
Ballance, who played 23 Test matches for England, said Rafiq was his “best mate in cricket” and that he “cared deeply for him”, adding that “on the pitch we supported each other greatly”.
“I do not wish to discredit Rafa by repeating the words and statements that he made about me and others but I have to be clear that this was a situation where best friends said offensive things to each other which, outside of that context, would be considered wholly inappropriate,” added Ballance.
“I regret that these exchanges took place but at no time did I believe or understand that it had caused Rafa distress.
“If I had believed that then I would have stopped immediately. He was my best mate in cricket and I cared deeply for him. To my knowledge, it has never been alleged that I reduced Rafa to tears.”
More to follow.