England’s Alex Hales is back in the fold and just in time for the T20 World Cup

He may have struggled to stay out of trouble amid scandal and ‘trust issues’ but the three-year exile is finally over for England’s white-ball dynamo, Alex Hales.

Hales has convinced England’s hierarchy that he is a risk worth taking having been called into the T20 World Cup squad as Jonny Bairstow’s injury replacement.

He may not have played for England since 2019 amid off-field issues, but his form, combined with Jason Roy’s struggles and Bairstow’s leg fracture whilst slipping at a golf course, has given him the chance of an unlikely comeback.

Hales was banished from the England 2019 World Cup squad

Hales was banished from the England 2019 World Cup squad

Hales tested positive for recreational drugs in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, an incident which then-white-ball captain Eoin Morgan said resulted in “a complete breakdown in trust” leading to his banishment from the squad.

The Nottinghamshire batter had previously been suspended over his part in an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017, which saw England team-mate Ben Stokes charged with, but later cleared of, affray. And then in November last year, he apologised for “all the offence” he had caused after a photo showing him wearing black face make-up in 2009 was published.

  • 116* – March 27, 2014 vs Sri Lanka
  • 99 – June 24, 2012 vs West Indies
  • 94 – August 31, 2013 vs Australia
  • 80 – February 15, 2013 vs New Zealand
  • 68 – September 27, 2012 vs New Zealand

The explosive T20 opener, who helped propel England to No 1 in the world rankings and set two world-record one-day international totals, is back, but where has he been during his three-year exile?

Smashing the ball about for Barbados Tridents

Hales had been in decent form during the English summer of 2019, helping Notts to the Vitality Blast semi-final. And just a month after being dropped by England, he was picked in the first round of the Caribbean Premier League draft for Barbados Tridents – the side that finished last in the previous season’s league stage.

Hales impressed in his first season, helping Jason Holder’s Tridents to the title.

Heading to Durban

In September 2019, the hard-hitting England star became the Durban Heat’s new international marquee player after signing ahead of the Mzansi Super League season.

“Playing T20 cricket in South Africa is something that I have always wanted to do so when I was offered the role here it was no-brainer for me,” he said.

Once again, Hales impressed but not enough to help Durban make the play-offs.

Time for the Big Bash

Hales signed for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League

Hales signed for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League

Having already enjoyed spells with the Melbourne Renegades, Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes, Hales signed a one-year deal with Sydney Thunder for the Big Bash League in Australia.

Sydney Thunder head coach Shane Bond said: “He’s one of the most destructive batters, is an outstanding fielder and is also obviously a highly experienced player.”

Hales went on to become the second-highest run scorer in the 2019 BBL with 576 at 38.40 and a strike-rate nearing 150. He also formed a brilliant opening partnership with Usman Khawaja.

A more mature player and person

skysports alex hales trent rockets 5856735

“I certainly feel I have matured. As a player and away from the game, I’ve moved on and grown from the mistakes I’ve made in my private life and hopefully people can forgive and forget.”

Alex Hales

In May 2020, Hales said he had “matured” as a player and person and hoped to get back into England’s international plans.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Hales said: “I just hope the damage that’s been done isn’t terminal and I get another bite of the cherry.

“I certainly feel I have matured. As a player and away from the game, I’ve moved on and grown from the mistakes I’ve made in my private life and hopefully people can forgive and forget.

“I feel I’m in a good head space and hopefully I’ll get the chance to show that in the group environment again. Obviously I’d love to get my place back, playing international cricket is the highlight of any player’s career.

“Like Morgs (Eoin Morgan) has said, I guess time is the biggest healer. I just don’t know how long that is going to go on for. It can be tough to rebuild that trust when you are not in the close-knit circles.”

Back on the road & hotel quarantine

In April 2020, Karachi Kings batsman Hales prompted the PCB to postpone the semi-finals and final of Pakistan Super League.

Hales had sent a text message to Kings’ owner at 2am admitting he was displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

The final was eventually played in November with Hales in the Kings side which defeated Lahore Qalandars.

In July 2020, Hales was named in the Barbados Tridents squad for the Caribbean Premier League where he was unable to guide them into the play-offs.

The batsman found hotel quarantine 'punishing'

The batsman found hotel quarantine ‘punishing’

Ahead of the Big Bash in Australia that winter, Hales was forced into 14 days of hotel quarantine after leaving the UK.

“Yeah it was tough – punishing is one way to describe it. it was an interesting couple of weeks not seeing daylight or getting fresh air,” he said.

“It was a new experience but it was definitely worth it now to get the chance to play in the Big Bash. There’s a bit more freedom here than you get back home as well.

“It’s obviously really tough to leave home at any time. For me personally, I have refreshed and only played a month and a half of cricket and it wasn’t in bubbles in the UK.

“I’d be a lot more fresh than some of those guys that have been in bubble life since June or July, so I can definitely see where they are coming from. It’s such a huge strain on your mental and physical health to be in those bubbles.

“Personally I am fresh and looking forward to the next couple of months.”

The imposing figure of Hales ended up as top scorer, helping Thunder finish fifth.

  • 1271 – Alex Hales
  • 1237 – Shan Masood
  • 1195 – Jos Buttler
  • 1193 – Will Jacks
  • 1171 – Tim David

Timely reminder

Watch some of Hales' greatest knocks of the Hundred

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Watch some of Hales’ greatest knocks of the Hundred

Watch some of Hales’ greatest knocks of the Hundred

Hales gave selectors a timely reminder of his abilities with a batting masterclass for Nottinghamshire during the 2021 T20 Blast with a blistering 482 runs at a strike rate of 178.

Yet England selectors continued to ignore Hales again ahead of the ODI and T20 Pakistan series following a coronavirus outbreak in the bio-bubble.

Michael Vaughan took to Twitter to vent his frustration at Hales’ latest snub.

“So No Alex Hales that must be the end of his international career then find it very sad that someone who made a huge mistake but was punished can’t be given another go,” Vaughan wrote on Twitter.

“We all mistakes every week!!! Those that say they don’t are lying,” added Vaughan.

Covid-19 & bubble fatigue

Hales spent the winter in Australia – where he contracted Covid-19 – for the BBL with Thunder, and at the Pakistan Super League with Islamabad United.

He briefly pulled out of the PSL before returning, but he eventually opted to take a break from the franchise scene due to the restrictions of bio-secure environments which he admits affected his mental health.

“I am truly gutted to have to turn down one of the best opportunities of my career due to the toil that the last two years of bubble life has taken on my mental well-being. I’ll now take some time to rest and recharge ahead of the summer,” said Hales.

Hales then pulled out of the 2022 IPL with the Kolkata Knight Riders, due to bubble fatigue, but in April he was bought by the Trent Rockets for The Hundred.

‘Forgive, move on’

England Test captain Ben Stokes believes that Hales is one of the best T20 players in the world

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England Test captain Ben Stokes believes that Hales is one of the best T20 players in the world

England Test captain Ben Stokes believes that Hales is one of the best T20 players in the world

After he struck a stunning 59 off 29 balls included four sixes and six fours during the Rockets victory over Oval Invincibles, Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain said: “I try and pick people on their ability as a cricketer really. He did the crime, he served his time… forgive, move on.

“But, you can’t tell me from what we’ve seen from domestic franchises around the world… Alex Hales is a serious cricketer.

“Try and pick your best side, but they may know something else, that inner core of senior players may not want him.”

The Rockets went on to win the title after edging Manchester Originals in low-scoring final.

Jos Buttler (Lancashire, captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Harry Brook (Yorkshire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire) Chris Jordan (Surrey), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Phil Salt (Lancashire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Reece Topley (Surrey), David Willey (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).

Travelling Reserves: Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Richard Gleeson (Lancashire), Tymal Mills (Sussex).

‘Trust’

Eoin Morgan says that Hales' quality has never been in question and that it's more the case of whether the team and selectors can 'trust' him

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Eoin Morgan says that Hales’ quality has never been in question and that it’s more the case of whether the team and selectors can ‘trust’ him

Eoin Morgan says that Hales’ quality has never been in question and that it’s more the case of whether the team and selectors can ‘trust’ him

Just last month, Morgan, who has retired from international cricket, admitted Hales’ quality has never been in question but said it was more the case of whether the team and selectors can “trust” him.

“Rob Key said he is available for selection, so that means he goes into a pool of players with the likes of Will Jacks, Phil Salt, Will Smeed, that sort of calibre of player,” said Morgan.

“But there’s no doubt he’s extremely destructive and a match-winner.”

Jos Buttler (Lancashire, captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire, vice-captain), Harry Brook (Yorkshire), Jordan Cox (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Richard Gleeson (Lancashire), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Tom Helm (Middlesex), Will Jacks (Surrey), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Phil Salt (Lancashire), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Reece Topley (Surrey), David Willey (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Luke Wood (Lancashire), Mark Wood (Durham).

Going to the World Cup

England men’s managing director Rob Key stated the door was open for Hales to make his return, with his past transgressions now forgotten.

“I spoke to Alex Hales, he rang me actually, and he argued why he wasn’t there and I think that’s quite right too,” Key said after the initial England T20 squad had been announced.

“I much prefer when these people pick up the phone and say, ‘come on then, why wasn’t I there?’

“I have a huge amount of respect for that as opposed to people who go behind the scenes moaning about why they’ve not been picked.

I’ve said on a number of occasions that I feel Alex Hales has served his time for his misdemeanours. Now it’s on form, selection, and whether we feel they are the best person to go out there.”

Ready to ‘learn from mistakes’ ahead of Pakistan T20 series

England captain Jos Buttler says the squad are excited to be in Pakistan to play seven T20 internationals

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England captain Jos Buttler says the squad are excited to be in Pakistan to play seven T20 internationals

England captain Jos Buttler says the squad are excited to be in Pakistan to play seven T20 internationals

Hales is now eager to seize his unexpected chance after life in the international wilderness.

“I feel as if I’ve grown as a person and where I am at the moment on the field and off the field is probably the best of my career so far. To get this chance again is something I’m really proud of,” said Hales in an article published by the Daily Telegraph.

“It was disappointing not to be in the team for three years. At the end of the day, it was my fault, wasn’t it? I was the one who did what I did. I just have to hold my hands up.

“You have to look yourself in the mirror and try to improve as a person and learn from your mistakes.”

A 19-man England squad arrived in Karachi for the first time in 17 years

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A 19-man England squad arrived in Karachi for the first time in 17 years

A 19-man England squad arrived in Karachi for the first time in 17 years

The right-hander will form part of the squad heading to Australia in October for the ICC T20 World Cup, along with the preceding IT20 tour of Pakistan and the three-match series against the World Cup hosts.

Watch England’s tour of Pakistan live on Sky Sports. Live coverage of the opening T20 international begins on Tuesday, September 20 from 3pm on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event.

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