Alex Hales ‘hard to keep out’ of 50-over World Cup after fine England return

Alex Hales’s rehabilitation into the England setup could continue beyond Sunday’s T20 World Cup final after the white-ball coach, Matthew Mott, indicated that he was ready to bring the opener into the 50-over side before next year’s World Cup in that format.

Hales returned to the England fold in September after an absence of over three years and has been one of their players of the tournament, scoring 52, 47 and an unbeaten 86 in his past three innings. He played the last of his 70 one-day internationals in March 2019, and recently said he would be keen to represent his country again in the longer format.

“To me white-ball cricket is white-ball cricket,” Mott said. “He’s shown he’s not a slogger of the ball. He’s a proper cricketer and there’s absolutely no reason why he couldn’t get in that 50-over team. We’ve got some tough selections coming up, and we don’t play a lot of one-day cricket, but I’m sure if he keeps in this rich vein of form he’ll be hard to keep out.

“Alex’s ability just to stay in the moment and hit the right shot, particularly in the last few games, has been a real standout. I’ve seen him do that to a lot of attacks, but playing in leagues around the world is one thing – playing in a World Cup and delivery in must-win games, that sets you apart. I think he deserves everything that comes his way. He’s been a real lightning rod for our group.”

Hales was cast into the international wilderness in 2019 after he tested positive for a recreational drug shortly before the start of England’s successful 50-over World Cup campaign. He returned only after Eoin Morgan’s retirement from the captaincy and a freak golfing injury to Jonny Bairstow created a vacancy at the top of England’s batting order. But after his display in England’s thumping semi-final victory over India, Hales denied he was in any way motivated by the chance to show anyone what they had been missing.

“That’s not really on my mind when I’m out there in the middle,” he said. “It’s not why I play the game, stuff like that. I just want to enjoy myself 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 a chance to leave with a World Cup medal it would be very, very special.”

Adelaide Oval, scene of England’s semi-final success, is one of Hales’s favourite grounds, and he averages 48.33 there in 11 T20s. His visits to the MCG, where England play Pakistan on Sunday, have been a lot less enjoyable, and in 11 games there he averages 20.8.

“It’s a ground I haven’t had much success at,” he said. “They’re very different conditions and dimensions to what you get in Adelaide but it’s an incredible atmosphere and a big occasion. You have to hit the ball in different areas with the wider boundaries, so it’s a very different gameplan. We have to make sure we adapt to those conditions as quickly as we can.”

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