As we have seen England’s openers struggle largely out in Sri Lanka (that was until Dom Sibley’s terrific second innings in Galle today). I always end up full circle when I seek through the county championships shortlist of competent possibilities that Joe Root and co should choose from to take the new ball in test cricket, often saying invariably what every other Notts CCC fan would suggest, and that is… “Alex Hales would solve everything if selected.”
We all know the enigma that is Hales and that he’s had his chance, messed it up, and probably gone down the Kevin Pietersen route of distancing himself from all things England, but stick a bat in his hand, and throw a ball at him, and you will get three things for sure… BIG shots, BIG runs… BIG levels of excitement!
The swashbuckling Hales has just broken the record for most ever sixes in a Big Bash League season (which is still not yet complete). 30 in all, the Nottinghamshire batsman helping his Aussie Franchise Sydney Thunder to a nine wicket win over Adelaide Strikers today. 63 not out from 39 balls after a fabulous 110 from 56 balls in the derby against Sydney Sixers on Friday. Phenomenal form for the joint best team in Australia right now. Hales is currently in a league of his own as batsmen in the competition go.
Heading the BBL table for most runs scored in Australia, on 535 so far, Hales is a good eighty plus ahead of his nearest challenger Josh Phillipe. Topping a list that includes world-class batsmen, Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Colin Munroe, Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, Jason Roy and his own Sydney team-mate Usman Khawaja… The Aussies must be thinking ‘why does this boy not play for England?’
Now 32, Hales has had his widespread problems with England Selectors in the past but former skipper Michael Vaughan has suggested that now might be the time to resolve those issues.
Vaughan, speaking out after Hales scored a super quick ton during the Sydney derby stated “There has been enough time now between what happened before the World Cup. England were right to get rid of him before then, but since then he’s played so well, particularly over the past year.
“He gets in England’s best six or seven batsmen and for that reason I believe time is a great healer.
“I just hope they can manage it correctly – get in a room and whatever the issues are, whether it’s the selectors, Eoin Morgan, the management, who knows, but he’s certainly playing well enough to be considered and be considered quite strictly.”
Hales exempt himself from red ball cricket in 2018 as he looked to concentrate on the shorter format and that decision has fired him into an elite force in the white ball game, although some would say he missed an opportunity along the way, during a time when England struggled for test match openers.
As a former test batsmen himself, Alex never really fulfilled his potential in just eleven matches for his country, scoring 573 runs at an average of 27.28 with a best of 94 but in the shorter format, statistics are much better, having played much more regularly for his country too.
Whilst playing test cricket is never again likely to happen for a man who loves nothing more than simply smashing the ball out of the park, the white ball team cannot continue to ignore Hales if he’s to continue scoring the runs he does, in the way he does, because at his best, there are not many better on the planet, let alone in the country of England to choose from.
I personally would love nothing more than seeing Hales return to Notts this summer with the view to playing the longer format, it won’t happen, it’s just a pipe dream, but if it did, he could still be England’s best opening batsman.
That instead will have to be channelled to the shorter-format where playing white ball well for the Outlaws is sure to get those calling for him for an England return. Since his drugs ban in 2019 prior to the World Cup there is certain call that he should never play again, but Mavericks and Eccentrics are from mundane. Their paths never straight forward, their character always questioned.
Having met Hales, in the nicest possible way I would call him a dippy but lovable old sod, mistakes made yes, but no malice in the decisions he’s previously encountered, but when he’s at the crease, when he’s in the zone, and when he’s at his best with a cricket bat in hand, he’s nothing short of genius. The best I’ve seen in green and gold.
Those that know him I know think that too.. So a little forgive and a bit of forget, lets get Hales back to playing for England so we can all enjoy him at his best. Because whilst he’s doing it in Sydney, he’s annoyingly not doing it for us.
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @WisdenCricket Hales breaking records in Australia.