Alex Hales says he is still ‘desperate’ to play for England, almost two years since he was dropped from the white-ball squad a matter of weeks before the World Cup.
After being involved in an incident outside a Bristol nightclub with Ben Stokes in 2017, Hales tested positive for recreational drugs in the build-up to the World Cup and was swiftly axed from the squad as England cited a breakdown in trust.
Eoin Morgan’s side went on to lift the World Cup trophy at Lord’s in Hales’ absence and despite consistently impressing in T20 competitions around the world, the opening batsman has not been considered for selection since.
Hales, who turned 32 at the beginning of the year, has not given up hope of making an international comeback before the T20 World Cup in India in the autumn and insists he has made a number of lifestyle changes, both to help his own mental wellbeing and also try to regain some of the trust that was lost in 2019.
“I’m obviously desperate to get back into the England team,” he said in an interview for The Hussain and Key Cricket Show.
“The pinnacle of cricket is still international cricket, so I’d love to be able to force my way back into that limited-overs side somehow.
“One of the things that has been said in the media is that there needs to be a certain amount of time and trust rebuilt, I feel like two years is a very long time in an international sportsman’s career – two years is a very long time at the peak of your cricket.
“I’d like to have some conversations with some people over, hopefully, the next couple of months and see how I can go about regaining trust as I’m currently not around the squad. I feel that is something that is hard to do when you are not actually around the people whose trust you need to win back.
“Hopefully I can have those conversations about if there is a way back into the team and if there is no way back then it would be nice just to have some clarity, one way or the other.”
Hales has enjoyed plenty of success in franchise T20 competitions during his international hiatus, winning the Pakistan Super League with Karachi Kings and leading the run-scoring charts at this year’s Big Bash in Australia, as well as playing his part in Nottinghamshire Outlaws’ Vitality Blast success last summer.
That has also been part of his bid to make the best of a situation that he admits left him feeling as low as he ever had when it happened.
“At first, watching the whole thing unfold was sickening,” Hales added. “It is really quite hard to put into words that feeling when you’re told the bad news. That drive home was probably the worst I’ve ever felt in my life.
“Putting that aside, to sit and watch the guys go on to win the World Cup was a weird feeling because you feel sick at yourself for not being a part of it, but you feel so much elation because you know how much hard work has gone into it over the four years since the previous World Cup.
“Personally, it was obviously devastating and gutting to miss out, but you feel proud to have played a part in that success of the team.
“Obviously it was a very, very difficult time but it was two years ago now and I’ve tried to make a positive out of it and make myself a better bloke, make myself a better cricketer as well and do whatever I can – on and off the field – to get myself back into that side and try and win another World Cup.”
The Notts batsman, who has retired from red-ball cricket, admits that he needed to make changes to his lifestyle after the events that cost him the chance to play in a home World Cup and even moved out of Nottingham city centre for a quieter life in the countryside in the aftermath.
Having made those changes, Hales can only wait to see if his actions off the field and performances on it have done enough to persuade Morgan and Ed Smith that he has earned another shot with England.
“I definitely feel I am good enough to still be playing and hopefully I’ll get another crack.”
Should Hales return for England? The pundits’ view…
David Lloyd: Is he one of England’s best players? I think he is devastating so he would get a tick from me. Folk grow up and I am also a believer in giving people a second chance. You mess up, you get one strike, and you can certainly come back. Is he one of the best? Yeah, he is. He can be a devastating player and you want these players around.
Michael Atherton: My starting point is that good players win cricket matches and therefore you want to try and accommodate good players. The public sympathy will be with Hales, I think, but my sympathy is with Morgan. He helped create and develop not only the best one-day team in the world but the champion one-day team in the world. I don’t know Morgan that well but I think I know him well enough to know he is not a vindictive person – but he is ruthless and wants the best for his side. Therefore, I think he has earned the right to make that decision.
Nasser Hussain: I agree with Ath but Morgan has also earned the right to change his mind if the lad has changed his ways. He has served his time – it has been two years now and England are sort of leaving him hanging. I think we are now pushing it to a stage where this lad is being a little hard done by – unless we don’t know something. I think part of leadership and captaincy is handling difficult people, who have difficult issues, who do things wrong. 11 yes men don’t always win you games.
Watch The Hussain and Key Cricket Show, with special guest Alex Hales, from 6pm, Thursday on Sky Sports Cricket.
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