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England cricket’s racism problem rears with Alex Hales blackface

A photograph of former England batsman Alex Hales in blackface at a fancy dress party has surfaced just as the English side is being forced to reckon with racism in its ranks.

Hales apologised for the old photo on Friday, saying it was “incredibly reckless and foolish”.

The Sun newspaper published the image on Thursday and said it had been taken at a New Year’s Eve party in 2009.

Hales, 32, tried to explain the attire by saying it was a tribute to late rapper Tupac Shakur. 

“The theme was musicians and Tupac is, was and always will be my favourite musician so I went (dressed) as him,” Hales said in a video on Friday.

“Obviously I realise it’s incredibly disrespectful and want to apologise for the offence that this has, no doubt, caused. It was incredibly reckless and foolish on my behalf.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it will investigate the matter.

Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, for whom Hales plays, also said the batsman would be subjected to the club’s disciplinary process.

“I want to apologise to the club for the embarrassment it would have caused and I guess my 20s was full of mistakes like that,” Hales said.

Azeem Rafiq

Ex-Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq, a player of Pakistani descent, testified on Tuesday before a British parliamentary committee about the discrimination he had faced while at the club, saying the sport in England was riddled with racism. 

Rafiq himself apologised on Thursday for using anti-Semitic language in an exchange of messages with another cricketer from 2011.

On Wednesday, Hales denied there was “any racial connotation” in his naming his dog Kevin after allegations by Rafiq.

Rafiq said that England’s Gary Ballance, 31 used the name “Kevin” to refer to people of colour and claimed Hales used the name for his dog as it was black.

Rafiq said: “It’s disgusting how much of a joke it was.”

“With regards to the allegations about the dog… I want to reiterate what I said in my statement the other day,” Hales said,

“Last few years being away from the spotlight a little bit has given me a chance to better myself as a human…”

READ MORE: British cricket is a sport mired in the ugly swamp of racism

READ MORE: ICC probes ‘racist abuse’ of Indian cricket players in Australia

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