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Gary Ballance: Former England batter signs two-year deal to play for Zimbabwe after release from Yorkshire

Gary Ballance's departure from Yorkshire was confirmed on Thursday; former England batter, 33, will now return to international cricket with his native Zimbabwe; Ballance played 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals for England between 2013 and 2017

Gary Ballance (PA Images)
Image: Former England batter Gary Ballance has agreed a two-year deal to play for his native Zimbabwe following his release from Yorkshire

Former England batter Gary Ballance has agreed a two-year deal to play for his native Zimbabwe following his release from Yorkshire.

Ballance, who admitted using racist language against former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq during a lengthy statement in late 2021, has spent the past year on the sidelines dealing with mental health issues.

The 33-year-old's departure from Yorkshire was announced on Thursday and it was revealed that he would not play county cricket during the 2023 campaign.

Ballance will now play for Zimbabwe, the nation he featured for during the Under-19 World Cup before moving to England in 2006, where he initially represented Derbyshire before joining Yorkshire in 2008.

The left-hander played 23 Tests for England between 2014 and 2017, scoring 1,498 runs including four centuries at an average of 37.14, while he also figured in 16 one-day internationals between 2013 and 2015, hitting two fifties.

Ballance, who will also play in Zimbabwean domestic cricket, could make his Zimbabwe debut in January when the African side host Ireland for three T20 internationals and as many one-day internationals.

Garry Ballance (PA Images)
Image: Ballance played 23 Test matches and 16 one-day internationals for England

Ballance "I'm thrilled to be joining Zimbabwe Cricket and can't wait to start work with some great coaches and talented players. The opportunity to represent Zimbabwe has given me a new-found passion and excitement for the game.

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"I have kept in touch with a number of people within Zimbabwe cricket over the years and it has been great to watch their recent progress especially."

Zimbabwe director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza said his nation were delighted to have an "immensely talented and experienced cricketer" back home.

"He's a great addition to our domestic and international set-up and we are looking forward to him making a massive difference for us," Masakadza said.

Under International Cricket Council rules, a player can switch allegiance between full member nations if there has been a three-year gap since they last played for the country they are moving from.

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