Hales to make BBL return after racism saga

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Sydney Thunder have stuck by Alex Hales in response to the opener's blackface scandal, with Cricket NSW chief executive Lee Germon saying the BBL club "must accept people who have made mistakes".

A photo emerged last week of Hales with his face painted black at a 2009 New Year's Eve party.

It was the latest revelation to rock the sport in England, which continues to grapple with a racism furore sparked by Azeem Rafiq's experience at Yorkshire.

Hales denied naming his dog 'Kevin' after a racially derogatory term, as suggested by Rafiq at a parliamentary hearing.

But the batter, who hasn't played for England since failing drug tests in the lead-up to the 2019 ODI World Cup, apologetically admitted his attempted tribute to rapper Tupac Shakur at the party was "incredibly reckless and foolish".

Germon has given the green light for the leading run-scorer of the 2020-21 BBL season to return to the Thunder,

"One of the hallmarks of Thunder Nation's success is the team embraces diversity, and is a club for all," Germon said in a statement.

"If we really believe that we also must accept people who have made mistakes.

"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 judgment he made as a young man."

Hales, who scored a combined 1119 runs across the previous two BBL seasons, has previously expressed excitement about linking with former England coach Trevor Bayliss at the Thunder.

Germon noted he also sought the opinion of Hales' teammates and Thunder staff.

"I've been told ... he's been a tremendous teammate and ambassador for Thunder's ideals and aspirations.

"I understand he's only ever been enthusiastic - and genuine - in his many interactions with fans," he said.

"He realises such actions can go a long way to making a difference.

"Alex believes in Sydney Thunder's goal to be a loved club.

"He understands Thunder wants to provide people - including those who are 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."

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