Yorkshire cricket captain Andrew Gale has insisted he is not racist and deeply regrets his tirade towards Lancashire batsman Ashwell Prince.
Gale was banned for the final two matches of the LV= County Championship season - missing the chance to lift the Championship trophy - after reportedly calling South African Prince a “f***ing Kolpak” during the Roses clash at Old Trafford last month.
But it was the England and Wales Cricket Board’s investigation into whether there was a racist element to the verbal attack that led to what Gale has described as “the toughest time” of his career in an interview with the Yorkshire Post.
Gale’s use of the word ‘Kolpak’ - shorthand for a band of overseas players who utilise an obscure employment law to play in England without restriction - was at the root of the charge, but the ECB’s case collapsed when Prince insisted he did not consider the comments to be racist.
Subsequently, Gale has been handed a further two-match ban and ordered to complete an anger management course, but he revealed it was the suggestion he was racist that has hurt him most during the saga.
“At a time when it should have been one of the happiest times of my career, it’s turned out to be the toughest time,” he told the newspaper.
“I am not a racist, and that tag was what hurt me most throughout the whole process.”
He added: “There were times when I didn’t want to leave the house after being branded a racist, but my family showed me great support that helped me through.”
Gale’s additional ban will mean he misses the curtain-raiser to the English season when champions Yorkshire take on MCC in Abu Dhabi next spring and he will also be unavailable for the first county championship fixture.
The 30-year-old, who has captained Yorkshire since 2009, is now hoping to put the episode behind him.
“I regret the way in which I reacted that day and I have always prided myself on being a role model to my fellow pros and all young cricketers I coach,” he said.
“I’d like to think that I have always played the game hard but fair , and I always endeavour to play every game to win.
“I am still immensely proud of what we have achieved this season and I hope the whole situation hasn’t detracted from Yorkshire’s success.
“Yorkshire were brilliant throughout the whole process, particularly (chief executive) Mark Arthur.”