England cricketer Alex Hales apologises for blackface costume after denying 'racial connotation' behind dog's name
English cricketer Alex Hales has apologised for appearing in blackface at a party in 2009, branding his behaviour "reckless and foolish".
The publication of a picture in The Sun comes as the sport is rocked by a racism scandal, following explosive testimony by the Yorkshire whistleblower Azeem Rafiq.
In response, Hales' current club Nottinghamshire said it had extended its investigation into the conduct of its player, already under scrutiny over his previous behaviour.
In a post on Instagram, the 32-year-old said he had gone to the fancy dress party in 2009 as US rapper Tupac Shakur because he "is, was, always will be my favourite musician".
He said: "I obviously realise that this is incredibly disrespectful and I want to apologise for the offence that this has no doubt caused.
"It was incredibly reckless and foolish on my behalf and so I want to apologise for that, apologise to the club for the embarrassment it would have caused them."
He added: "My 20s was full of mistakes like that. Reckless mistakes off the field that let down family, let down teammates, let down friends.
"Some of those decisions I will regret for the rest of my life."
There will be a point when the confessions and condemnations in cricket will stop. It is though still some way off. This was the week that rocked cricket to its foundations and the aftershocks will be felt for some time yet. The racism scandal that started at Headingley has spread out at pace to create what is probably the most intense period of soul searching the game has ever found itself in. How was it all so normal? And most tricky of all - what do you need to do to change a culture that has lurked in the game for so long? How can those changes come quickly enough to prove the often repeated slogan of there being "no room for racism"? Change is coming and not just in cricket - hockey is another sport with its own allegations of mishandling racism. Those running cricket in the UK are now acutely aware that they have to get on the front foot. Review panels and warm words won’t cut it - not only does cricket need to change but it crucially needs to show the wider public that it has changed. Freezing, when you are in the middle facing a frenzied attack, only ends one way in this sport - you find yourself out.
A statement released by his club said: "Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club have extended the scope of their investigation into the historic conduct of Alex Hales following the publication of a photograph in 2009."
It added: "Alex will be subject to the club's established disciplinary process and has indicated his willingness to participate in the investigation."
Hales has already denied there was any "racial connotation" behind naming his dog Kevin, because it was black.
Rafiq alleged he had picked up the nickname from Gary Ballance, who he said used it as a derogatory term to describe ethnic minorities.
The player said in a statement that it was an accusation he "categorically and absolutely" denied.
Amid the continuing controversy, cricket bosses are holding a summit to discuss the crisis.
Teams are being asked to sign up to a 12-point action plan after Rafiq gave evidence to MPs about the racism he experienced when playing for Yorkshire.
Counties that fail to comply face having their funding withdrawn by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Meanwhile, Rafiq himself has apologised for making antisemitic comments in a message exchange with another cricketer in 2011.
Rafiq said he was "ashamed of this exchange" while saying sorry to the Jewish community "and everyone who is rightly offended by this" but insisted he is a different person today.