Ballance apologises to Rafiq for 'racist' language
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The pair had a meeting in London this week and after accepting the apology, Rafiq hopes the 32-year-old can now become "part of the solution" in cricket's fight against racism.
"I apologise unreservedly to Azeem for the words I used when we played together," Ballance said in a statement on Thursday.
"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 that the language I used was wrong."
Zimbabwe-born Ballance, who played 23 Tests for England between 2014 and 2017, is currently suspended from international duty as part of the England and Wales Cricket Board's investigation into Rafiq's claims.
Rafiq first made allegations of racism and harassment against Yorkshire two years ago and the club and several unnamed individuals have since been charged by the ECB.
The ECB said the Cricket Discipline Commission panel hearing to look at the cases was expected to take place in September or October.
"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.
"Gary got things wrong, so did many people. The main issue is cricket's institutional racism. Gary's courage means he is now part of the solution. I hope he can be allowed to get on with his cricket."