Sydney (AFP) – Big Bash League club Sydney Thunder plan to stay with Alex Hales despite a picture of the England batsman with his face painted black and claims he called his pet dog ‘Kevin’ as part of a racially derogatory joke .
The image emerged last week following revelations from former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq about the career-ending racism he has suffered which has sent shockwaves through English cricket.
Cricket NSW chief executive Lee Germon, who oversees the Thunder, stressed there was no room for racism or any form of discrimination in the sport.
But he added in a statement on Monday evening that Australia’s Twenty20 side should also “accept people who have made mistakes”.
“One of the hallmarks of Thunder’s success is that the team embraces diversity and is a club for everyone,” he said. “If you really believe in it, you also have to accept people who have made mistakes.
“I’ve spoken to Alex, watched his apology and have no doubt he’s remorseful for the picture and other misjudgments he made in his youth.”
Hales said the black-faced photo, taken at a New Year’s Eve party in 2009, was simply a tribute to his favorite rap artist, Tupac Shakur. But he admitted it was “disrespectful” and that he “lamented” the racism.
This followed Rafiq telling a UK parliamentary committee that Hales, now 32, had named his black dog “Kevin” because of cricketer Gary Ballance’s use of the name as a pejorative term. This accusation prompted a “categorical” denial from Hales.
Germon said he sought input from Hales teammates and Thunder staff before giving the opener the go-ahead to return for the new season, which begins in December.
“I’ve been told…he’s been a terrific teammate and an ambassador for Thunder’s ideals and aspirations,” Germon said.
“He understands that Thunder want to give people – including those new to Australia – a sports team they can relate to regardless of their background.
“We want everyone who comes to a Sydney Thunder game to know it’s a safe place, a place of mutual respect for them and their families.”
Hales was the top scorer in the 2020-21 BBL season.
He will join former England manager Trevor Bayliss, who took the reins of the Sydney Thunder from Shane Bond, in the new campaign.
© 2021 AFP