ECB recommends fines totalling £37,000 for Yorkshire cricketers accused in Azeem Rafiq racial abuse case

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is recommending the six players charged in the Yorkshire racism case face fines totalling £37,000 and suspensions.

Former England international Gary Ballance is to bear the brunt with a recommended £8,000 fine and an eight-week suspension.

Ballance, 33, admitted using a racial slur against former Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq, and retired from the game last month.

The other five former Yorkshire players who faced accusations were John Blain, Tim Bresnan, Andrew Gale, Matthew Hoggard and Richard Pyrah.

They all failed to cooperate with the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) hearings and were found to have used racist and/or discriminatory language towards Rafiq and other players.

The ECB recommended former Yorkshire captain and coach Gale should be fined £7,500 and face a four-week suspension if he were to make a return to coaching.

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

Ashes-winning former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan was cleared of racism.

The scandal involved whistleblower Rafiq, who claimed some of his teammates used racist language like "P***" towards him during his playing days.

Read more on Sky News:
Plaid Cymru apologises for 'unacceptable behaviour' after report on sexual harassment
Man kept dead flatmate in freezer for nearly two years

On Ballance, ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy KC said: "We understand 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 there be a reprimand, and Mr Ballance be fined £8,000, reduced from £12,500 to take in effect of his admissions."

Ms Mulcahy recommended Ballance attend a racism and discrimination course paid for by himself, and an eight-week suspension, reduced from 10, if he were to play again.

It was argued by Ballance's lawyer, Craig Harris, that the fine be reduced due to the consequences of the case including losing his job as a Yorkshire cricketer and a sponsorship contract, and his exclusion from the England squad.

Meanwhile, Blain launched a crowdfunding page to legally clear his name. The former Scotland international described the outcome of the case as a "depressingly predictable and wholly unjust decision" calling the evidence "one-sided, partial and in some areas, simply untrue".

Yorkshire County Cricket Club admitted to four charges including a "failure to address systemic use of racist and/or discriminatory language over a prolonged period".

The sanctions against the club are expected to be announced next month.