Former England batter Gary Ballance retires from cricket

Former England batter Gary Ballance has announced his retirement just three months after restarting his international career with Zimbabwe.

Ballance, 33, played 23 Tests and 16 ODIs for England but last featured in 2017 as he battled loss of form, struggles with mental health and damaging accusations in the Yorkshire racism scandal.

After agreeing to cancel his contract at Headingley he returned to the country of his birth and signed a two-year deal, but his return to top-flight cricket was a brief one.

Ballance scored a century in his only Test appearance for Zimbabwe, making 137 not out against the West Indies in February, and also featured in five ODIs and one T20.

Despite promising returns, Ballance concluded that his motivation to compete at the highest level had evaporated.

In a statement issued via the Professional Cricketers’ Association, he said: “After much thought, I have decided to retire from all forms of professional cricket with immediate effect.

“I had hoped my move to Zimbabwe would provide me with a new-found happiness for the game and I will always be thankful to Zimbabwe Cricket for providing me with an opportunity to return to international cricket and welcoming me into their team.

“However, I have reached the stage where I no longer have the desire to dedicate myself to the rigours of professional sport and this would do Zimbabwe Cricket and the game itself a disservice, should I carry on. I wish them every success going forward.

“I have been fortunate to have some incredibly memorable moments in cricket, winning County Championships with Yorkshire and gaining the ultimate honour of representing England and Zimbabwe.

“I want to thank all of my clubs, coaches, support staff, teammates and supporters for their guidance and encouragement over my career, it has been a privilege. It is now time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life. I will be making no further comments on my decision at this time.”

Ballance was one of those accused of racism by Azeem Rafiq, whose account of his time at Yorkshire sent shockwaves throughout the English game.

The pair had once been close friends but after meeting to apologise last year, Ballance accepted he had used “unacceptable – at times, racist – language”. He later accepted five charges laid by the cricket discipline commission.

Ballance enjoyed a bright start to his England career in 2014.
Gary Ballance enjoyed a bright start to his England career in 2014 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The left-hander had once looked set to be a significant player for England, making a fine start as a Test number three and scoring three centuries in the summer of 2014.

He was unable to keep that form going, adding one more hundred in the West Indies the following spring before a run of indifferent form and concerns over his technique took over.

He was handed a second chance after being recalled at the start of Joe Root’s captaincy but after two games and a broken thumb he drifted out of contention.

He bows out with an impressive first-class record, scoring over 12,000 runs at an average of 47.74 and scoring 42 centuries. He also made 4,697 List A runs and 1,952 in T20 cricket.