London: Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale expressed remorse over his abuse of Lancashire batsman Ashwell Prince in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday, but insisted that he is not a racist.
Gale was banned for the last two matches of the County Championship season - and prevented from attending title-winning Yorkshire’s trophy presentation ceremony - after reportedly calling South African Prince a “Kolpak" along with an expletive during a game last month.
Following a probe, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) banned Gale for a further two matches - and ordered him to complete an anger management course, but did not say it was because a racist element had been proven.
“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," Gale told regional newspaper the Yorkshire Post.
“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."
The spat between Gale and Prince, who is black, occurred at the end of the third day’s play in a match between their teams last month.
A ‘Kolpak’ cricketer is one who was born overseas, but who qualifies to play in English domestic cricket under the laws of the European Union.
The term takes its name from Maros Kolpak, a Slovakian handball player who won a landmark case at the European Court of Justice in 2003 that upheld the right to freedom of work and movement within the EU for citizens from countries that have signed agreements with the EU.
Yorkshire defended Gale against accusations of racism and Prince himself said that he did not feel there was a racist element to the batsman’s abuse, which saw him reported by the match umpires.
“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," added Gale, whose side won the County Championship.
“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."
Gale will miss Yorkshire’s first-class season opener against MCC in Abu Dhabi next year and their opening match of the 2015 County Championship.