Big-Bash-Liga society Sydney Donner plan to stick with it Alex Hales despite a photo of the English batsman with his face painted black, claiming he named his dog “Kevin” as part of a racially derogatory joke.
The picture was taken last week following former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq’s revelations about the racism that ended his career, which sent shock waves through English cricket.
Cricket NSW boss Lee Germon, who oversees the Thunder, stressed that there is no place in sport for racism or any form of discrimination.
But he added in a statement late Monday 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 in it, we also have to accept people who have made mistakes.
“I’ve spoken to Alex, I’ve watched his apology and have no doubt that he’s remorseful about the photo and other misjudgments he made as a young man.”
Hales said the blackface 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 that it was “disrespectful” and that he “regretted” racism.
It was followed by Rafiq, who told a UK parliamentary committee that Hales, now 32, called his black dog “Kevin” because cricketer Gary Ballance had used the name as a derogatory term. This accusation led to a “categorical” disapproval from Hales.
Germon said he sought the opinion of Hales’ teammates and Thunder staff before giving the go-ahead for the new season, which begins in December.
“I was told … he’s a great teammate and ambassador for Thunder’s ideals and aspirations,” said Germon.
“He understands that Thunder wants to provide people – including newcomers to Australia – with a sports team that they can identify with regardless of their background.
“We want everyone who comes to a Sydney Thunder Match to know that it is a safe place, where there is mutual respect for them and their families.”
Hales was the leading running shooter of the 2020/21 BBL season.
He will team up for the new season with former England coach Trevor Bayliss, who has taken the reins of Sydney Thunder from Shane Bond.