Joe Clarke says he feels ’embarrassment and shame’ (Picture: Getty)

Nottinghamshire cricketer Joe Clarke says he feels ’embarrassment and shame’ over his past involvement in a vulgar WhatsApp group with convicted rapist Alex Hepburn.

Clarke, 25, used the messaging app to discuss sexual conquests with former Worcestershire teammates Hepburn and Tom Kohler-Cadmore back in 2017.

Hepburn was jailed for five years in 2019 after raping a woman who had earlier engaged in consensual sex with Clarke.

The judge at Hepburn’s trial said the WhatsApp messages ‘demeaned women’ and ‘trivialised rape’.

Clarke was not accused of any wrongdoing on the night in question but the England and Wales Cricket Board made him unavailable for selection and charged him with bringing the game into disrepute.

The batter has made 275 county appearances – scoring 25 centuries – and is believed to be in contention to play for England this summer.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Clarke said of his past actions: ‘I have done a lot of reflecting. It is embarrassment and shame that I was involved in what was a terrible thing.

Alex Hepburn was convicted of rape in 2019 (Picture: Getty)

‘It upsets me seeing it now so I completely understand why people get upset looking at it. It was completely wrong. It does not reflect the person I am now.

‘It is not something I have forgotten about at all. I’m happy I have the chance now to say how sorry I am for the involvement in all of it.’

Last month, new England director of men’s cricket Rob Key opened the door for Clarke to play for the national side.

Clarke added: ‘This is not about playing for England. This is about owning what I did, that I made a mistake and what I did was wrong.’

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On the victim, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, he said: ‘I feel like I let her down.

‘She was ultimately in my company and relied on me for her safety and I did not provide that. I hope that she has found the happiness that she deserves now and has managed to move on.’

A highly-rated batter, Clarke has thrived in domestic cricket and played in Australia’s Big Bash League and the Pakistan Super League.

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