HARARE: Gary Ballance, the former Yorkshire and England cricketer who recently relaunched his career with his native Zimbabwe, has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket with immediate effect. Ballance, 33, made four centuries in 23 Test appearances for England between 2014 and 2017, a record that compared favourably with many other players to have debuted in a similar period. However, he was heavily implicated in Azeem Rafiq’s explosive testimony during the DCMS parliamentary hearings in Westminster last November, after his use of the racial slur “P**i” had been deemed to be “banter” in the initial report into allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire. His career within English cricket ended amid the controversy, and after several months of open-ended leave on mental health grounds, Yorkshire released him from his contract at the end of the 2022 season, shortly after he was charged by the Cricket Discipline Commission alongside six other Yorkshire cricketers, including Michael Vaughan (who was subsequently cleared) and Matthew Hoggard. His move back to Zimbabwe — whom he had represented at Under-19 level prior to his England call-up — had been a bid for a fresh start, and it was initially a successful one too. He signed a two-year contract with ZC in December and played a total of eight international matches between January and March, including a one-off Test against West Indies in Bulawayo in which he scored a memorable 137 not out. The feat made him only the second Test cricketer to score centuries for two different nations, after Kepler Wessels, the former Australia batter and South Africa captain. However, after signing off with an unbeaten 64 to seal last month’s ODI series against the Netherlands, Ballance has now decided to call time on his relaunched career. “After much thought, I have decided to retire from all forms of professional cricket with immediate effect,” he said in a statement. “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.” He retires with a total of 1653 runs at 40.31 from his 24 Tests, and 12031 first-class runs at 47.74 all told, including 42 centuries and a further eight in List A cricket.