ENGLAND cricketer Alex Hales paints his face black in a photo heaping more shame on a sport rocked by racism.
Hales, 32, embroiled in this week’s Yorkshire race row, shocked fellow guests with his appearance at a New Year’s Eve bash.
Last night, he attempted to justify it by saying it was a tribute to US rapper Tupac Shakur.
But he was mauled by anti-racism campaigners and MPs, while the English Cricket Board said it was investigating.
MP Julian Knight heard shocking testimony on Tuesday from ex-Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq, 30.
The select committee chairman said: “This picture — coming on the back of a week when cricket was shamed like never before — is incredibly disturbing and offensive.
“The very soul of English cricket is now at stake.”
Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, added: “There is no scenario in which blackface is acceptable. To describe it as a ‘tribute’ is beyond reproach.”
One party-goer at the bash in Nottingham in 2009 recalled: “We couldn’t believe it when he arrived. Even back then it was utterly frowned upon. He just didn’t seem to care.”
This week Rafiq told MPs how he was called a “P**i” and an “elephant washer” by team-mates.
He said England’s Gary Ballance, 31, called people of colour “Kevin” 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.”
Hales, suspended by England for a second positive drugs test in 2019, has denied his dog’s name had racist connotations.
He said yesterday of the black-up pic: “I dressed in tribute to my musical hero, Tupac Shakur, someone who I’ve admired from childhood. I echo my statement from earlier in the week and stress how much I deplore racism.”
The ECB said it has “procedures in place to address conduct and allegations of this nature and we will investigate accordingly”.