BBL 2021-22: Sydney Thunder to keep ties with Alex Hales despite emergence of blackface photos

Hales had said he painted his black only to give a tribute to Tupac Shakur, his favourite rap artist.

Alex Hales
Alex Hales. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

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Sydney Thunder will continue their ties with Alex Hales despite the recent racist allegations put against him in the Azeem Rafiq Yorkshire row. Rafiq had alleged Hales to have used racist slurs including “Kevin”, a derogatory term he used for Asians in the dressing room. Hales recently also apologized over his decision to paint his face black at a fancy-dress party in 2009, which he admitted was “incredibly disrespectful” and one of the acts he will regret for a lifetime.

Cricket New South Wales chief executive Lee Germon stated in certain terms that there is no place for racism or any discrimination in the sport, but went on to add that those who committed a mistake in the past need to be accepted and forgiven.

“One of the hallmarks of Thunder’s success is the team embraces diversity and is a club for all. If we really believe that we also must accept people who have made mistakes,” he said. “I’ve spoken to Alex, I’ve watched his apology and have no doubt he is remorseful for the photograph and the other errors of judgement he made as a young man.”

In his apology statement, Hales had said he painted his black only to give a tribute to Tupac Shakur, his favourite rap artist. “The theme was musicians and Tupac is, was and always will be my favourite musician, so I went as him,” Hales’ statement read. “I obviously realise that this is incredibly disrespectful and I want to apologise for all the offence this has no doubt caused.”

“It was incredibly reckless and foolish on my behalf, so I want to apologise for that, apologise to the club for the embarrassment it would have caused them. I guess my twenties was full of mistakes like that, reckless mistakes off the field that cost me, let down family, let down team-mates, let down friends, close relationships I had during my twenties,” he added.

The blackface incident was followed by Rafiq’s serious allegations during an emotional testimony to the DCMS select committee in the British Parliament against a host of individuals who targeted and abused him during his time at the club. Rafiq reckoned Hales named his black dog “Kevin” as Gary Ballance introduced the term in the dressing room, used for people of Asian origin. However, Hales denied the claims.

Germon said he consulted all stakeholders before giving Hales, the leading run-getter of the previous edition of the tournament, the nod to stay with the Thunder at the BBL. “I’ve been told… he’s been a tremendous teammate and ambassador for Thunder’s ideals and aspirations,” said Germon.

“He understands Thunder wants to provide people — including those who are newcomers to Australia — with a sporting team they can identify with regardless of their background. We want everyone who comes to a Sydney Thunder match to know it is a safe place, one of mutual respect for them and their families,” he added.