Sydney (AFP) – Big Bash League club Sydney Thunder plan to stick with Alex Hales despite photo of England drummer with his face painted black and claim he called his pet dog “Kevin” as part of a joke derogatory racist.
The image emerged last week following revelations from former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq about the racism that ended his career and sent shockwaves through English cricket.
NSW Cricket General Manager Lee Germon, who oversees the Thunder, stressed that there is no room for racism or any form of discrimination in the sport.
But he added in a statement Monday night that Australia’s Twenty20 team should also “accept people who 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 we really believe that we also have to accept people who have made mistakes.
“I spoke to Alex, I watched his apologies and I have no doubt that he has remorse for the photo and the other misjudgments he made in his youth.”
Hales said the blackface photo, taken at a New Years party in 2009, was simply a tribute to his favorite rap artist, Tupac Shakur. But he admitted it was “disrespectful” and that he “deplored” the racism.
This followed Rafiq who told a UK parliamentary committee that Hales, now 32, named his black dog ‘Kevin’ because of cricketer Gary Ballance’s use of the name as a derogatory term. This accusation prompted a “categorical” denial from Hales.
Germon said he sought advice from Hales teammates and Thunder staff before giving the green light for the opener to return for the new season, which begins in December.
“I’ve been told … he’s been a great teammate and ambassador for Thunder’s ideals and aspirations,” said Germon.
“He understands Thunder wants to provide people – including those who are new to Australia – with a sports team they can relate to regardless of their background.
“We want everyone who comes to a Sydney Thunder game to know that it is a safe place, a place of mutual respect for themselves and their families.”
Hales was the BBL 2020-21 season’s top scorer.
In the new campaign he will join former England manager Trevor Bayliss, who took the reins of Shane Bond’s Sydney Thunder.
© 2021 AFP