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Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire captain, has spoken of the hurt he felt at being accused of racism after abusing Ashwell Prince in the Roses match last month, saying it was the "toughest time" of his career. Gale was ultimately suspended for four matches and ordered to attend an anger management course in return for the ECB dropping the racial element of the case.
Gale was also prevented from attending the presentation of the Championship trophy, after Yorkshire had won the title at Trent Bridge ten days later, leading to public outcry within the county.
"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 Yorkshire Post. "I am not a racist, and that tag was what hurt me most throughout the whole process.
"I have coached cricketers all over the world, and the work that I've done within the Yorkshire community and charities backs that up; that's why it hurt so much. 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 was initially banned for two matches, for a second breach of discipline, after being reported for a Level 2 offence by the standing umpires at Old Trafford. The charge was then raised to one of racial abuse for his alleged exhortation of Prince to "f*** off back to your own country, you Kolpak f******", before Gale admitted to "improper" conduct for using language that "could have caused offence".
Gale said that he "played the game hard but fair" and wanted the season to remembered for Yorkshire's first pennant in 13 years, rather than his misdemeanour.
"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."