Thunder stand by Hales after Blackface row

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Alex Hales has kept his Big Bash contract with Sydney Thunder after holding talks with the franchise over the emergence of photographs showing him posing in black body paint.

Hales has apologised for "reckless and foolish behaviour" relating to pictures of him in 'Blackface' at a 2009 fancy dress party, insisting it was a misguided attempt to pay tribute to rap artist Tupac Shakur.

Hales has denied an allegation by former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq that he named his pet dog dog "Kevin" as part of a racially derogatory joke involving other team-mates.

The 32-year-old Hales was invited to discuss inclusivity at greater length by Cricket New South Wales chief executive Lee Germon ahead of his overseas stint with Thunder next month.

"There is no place in cricket - or society - for racism or discrimination," said Germon.

"One of the hallmarks of Thunder Nation'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.

"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. Alex appreciates that going by today's standards people will question his judgement and actions and he's offered them a sincere apology.

"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. Alex is aware he's in a position where he can drive that, and he's made it clear to me that he is determined to help."

Hales was the BBL's leading scorer last summer with 543 runs, racked up at a strike rate above 161. He has scored 1119 runs for the Thunder over the last two seasons.

"The culture at Sydney Thunder, both on and off the field, is something special and I am excited to have the opportunity to be a part of it again," Hales said when he re-signed in September.

Despite his runs and strike-rate in white-ball cricket around the world Hales has not played for England since being suspended for a second positive drugs test in 2019.

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