Azeem Rafiq said former teammate Gary Ballance has done cricket and the fight against racism a “great service” by apologising in person to him for using racist language while the pair played for Yorkshire.
Ballance, who played 23 tests for England and had previously apologised to Rafiq in November, added in a statement published in The Cricketer that he had used “unacceptable — at times, racist — language” in his presence.
“If I had realised how much this hurt Azeem, I would have stopped immediately,” Ballance said. “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 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, a former England Under-19s captain of Pakistani descent, told a British parliamentary committee last year of “inhuman” treatment at Yorkshire and described the sport in England as riddled with racism.
On Thursday (25), he welcomed the apology from Ballance.
“He has done cricket and the fight against racism a great service with these words,” Rafiq said. “I would also like to thank those who have been in contact with me privately to apologise for what they witnessed.”
Rafiq added: “Gary has been brave to admit the truth and I understand why the mental strain has made it difficult for him to make this apology any sooner.
“Gary must be applauded for his honesty and unreserved apology and must now be allowed to get on with his life.”