Chris Woakes says he’d welcome Alex Hales’ England return if selected this summer

Chris Woakes says he would be happy to see Alex Hales back playing for England, following on from his 21-day ban for recreational drug use that cost him his World Cup place last year.

Hales, a regular in England’s white-ball set-up in the four years leading up to the 2019 World Cup, lost his place a month prior to the tournament, with captain Eoin Morgan citing a “lack of trust between Alex and the team”.

Hales’ last cap came in a T20 international against the West Indies in March last year, but the opener could be called upon again with England expected to name a larger 30-man squad in the coming weeks for a coronavirus-affected, congested summer schedule of cricket.

“I don’t know what will happen, but I would certainly be happy to see Alex back in England colours,” Woakes said of a potential Hales return.

“I’m a believer that if people serve their time, so to speak, and have gone away and worked on their weaknesses, then they should be allowed a second chance.

“He’s obviously gone through a tough time, with being left out of the World Cup [last year] and then seeing that team go on to lift the trophy – that must have been difficult for him.

“I think Alex is a world-class player. I’ve played a lot of cricket with him over the years, from a very young age.

“In a way, I felt sorry for him, but I understood the decision from both the management, the captain and the rest of the team.

“I don’t know if it’s 100 per cent the right decision; it’s not for me to make that call.”

Woakes added that he thinks his England team-mates would be similarly welcoming of any Hales recall.

“I would imagine the majority would have the same view that I’ve just given – in terms of people deserving a second chance.

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