Alex Hales’ rehabilitation in the England set-up could continue beyond Sunday’s T20 World Cup final after white-ball manager Matthew Mott indicated he was ready to bring the team’s first goal over of 50 before next year’s World Cup in that format.
Hales returned to the England fold in September after an absence of more than three years and has been one of their tournament players, scoring unbeaten 52, 47 and 86 in his last three innings. He played the last of his 70 one-day internationals in March 2019 and recently said that he would like to represent his country again in the longer format.
“To me, cue ball cricket is cue ball cricket,” Mott said. “He has shown that he is not a ball slogger. He’s a good cricketer and there’s absolutely no reason why he can’t get into that 50+ team. We’ve got some tough picks coming up, and we don’t play much one-day cricket, but I’m sure if kept in this rich vein of form, it will be difficult to leave it out.
“Alex’s ability to stay in the moment and make the right shot, particularly in the last few games, has been really outstanding. I’ve seen him do that in many attacks, but playing in leagues around the world is one thing: playing in a World Cup and delivering games where you have to win, that sets you apart. I think he deserves everything that comes his way. It has been a real lightning rod for our group.”
Hales was thrown into the international wilderness in 2019 after he tested positive for a recreational drug shortly before the start of England’s successful 50+ World Cup campaign. He returned only after Eoin Morgan’s retirement from the captaincy and a bizarre golf injury to Jonny Bairstow created a vacancy at the top of the England batting order. But after his display in England’s resounding semi-final victory over India, Hales denied that he was in any way motivated by the opportunity to show someone what they had been missing.
“That’s not really on my mind when I’m in the middle,” he said. “That’s not why I play the game, stuff like that. I just want to have fun and play at the highest level. I’m just playing with a smile on my face in an England shirt again and if I get the chance to walk away with a World Cup medal it would be very, very special.”
Adelaide Oval, the scene of England’s semi-final success, is one of Hales’ favorite courses, averaging 48.33 in 11 T20s there. His visits to the MCG, where England play Pakistan on Sunday, have been much less pleasant, and in 11 games there he has averaged 20.8.
“It’s a field where I haven’t had much success,” he said. “The conditions and dimensions are very different from Adelaide, but it is an incredible atmosphere and a great occasion. You have to hit the ball in different areas with wider limits, so it’s a very different game plan. We have to make sure we adapt to those conditions as quickly as possible.”