Former England Test player Gary Ballance has signed a two-year deal with Zimbabwe Cricket. He can now play international cricket for his native country.

Ballance was born in Zimbabwe. He played a total of 16 ODIs and 23 Tests for England, the last of which was five years ago.

The 33-year-old Ballance pleaded for a fresh start to his career following damaging revelations during Yorkshire’s racism episode last year, after which the club released him from his contract this week with the condition that he return to full service by 2023, will not be able to play for any other English county team in the season.

After his deal with Zimbabwe was confirmed, Ballance said he would return to cricket with “new passion and enthusiasm”. He has not played for Yorkshire since the end of the 2021 season, during which he was on a mental health break.

“I am thrilled to join Zimbabwe Cricket and look forward to starting work alongside some of the best coaches and talented players. The opportunity to represent Zimbabwe has given me a new passion and enthusiasm for the game. I have been in touch with a number of people in Zimbabwe cricket over the years and his recent progress in particular has been great.”

Ballance was born in Harare but attended Harrow School in England. He shone for Zimbabwe in the 2006 Under-19 World Cup. He played regularly for England between 2014 and 2017.

He averaged 37.45 and scored four centuries, the same as other middle-order batsmen in the England team at the time.

However, during a DCMS parliamentary hearing in Westminster in November last year, Azeem Rafiq made serious allegations against Balance in a sensational statement. Earlier initial reports into allegations of institutional racism in Yorkshire had deemed Ballance’s racial slur a “joke”.

Ballance is one of seven Yorkshire players and staff charged by the Cricket Disciplinary Commission in relation to the racism case. However following a series of appeals the hearing has been adjourned until the new year.

Ballance said, “I have gone through a challenging time at my level. After a lot of thought, together with my family, I decided that a change was the right thing to do. The support Yorkshire have given me off the field over the past year He’s been fantastic. I appreciate the club’s help but I hope my decision will mean a fresh start to my career.”

By Ritik Sharma

A common man who is doing calm se kaam, a failed cricketer, still in love with it. Establishing my journey into Journalism & if you love my articles then share it with your dear ones Instagram - @ritiksharma45