Yorkshire CCC: Gary Ballance international return with Zimbabwe would be welcomed, says coach
Harare-born Ballance represented Zimbabwe at Under-19 level but moved to England to complete his schooling and went on to don the Three Lions in 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals between 2014 and 2017.
Last year he was suspended from selection indefinitely by the England and Wales Cricket Board after being accused by former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq of racial abuse. The 32-year-old met Rafiq in London last week to apologise in person for his “unacceptable” language.
The requisite three years have passed since Ballance last wore England colours, so he could be eligible to pursue an international future with Zimbabwe. A long-standing family relationship with former Derbyshire coach Houghton, whose wife is the cousin of Ballance’s father, may make the move even more inviting.
Speaking ahead of his team’s second one-day international against Australia, Houghton said: “I’ve known Gary since he was a kid and I speak to him reasonably regularly.
“I don’t think Gary would be against coming back to play for Zimbabwe but he’s still got to sort out things in England.
“He’s probably got another eight to nine good years in him, so if he wants to come back we certainly won’t turn him away.”
Ballance has two years left on his current Yorkshire deal but has only played three times for the second XI this term, having earlier missed out with ongoing mental health concerns. He would be unlikely to be kept on as an overseas player.
Paul Farbrace will leave his post as Warwickshire’s director of cricket at the end of the season.
Farbrace joined the club in 2019, stepping down as assistant coach of the England men’s side in the process, and oversaw the Bears’ County Championship success last year. The former Yorkshire assistant coach, is returning south to spend more time with his family and has offered to assist the Bears as to identify a replacement.
The 55-year-old said: “It’s been a great four years and I would have stayed longer, but with my family in Kent, it’s time for me to focus on them.”