Alex Hales wants to make the best of the ‘unforeseen break’

England opener Alex Hales is enjoying his comeback. After spending three years in wilderness—after positive drug test in 2019 that led Eoin Morgan to banishing him from England’s white-ball setup—he was picked for the seven-match series against Pakistan and hammered a 51-ball 84 against Australia in Perth.

It was his superior record in BBL—– where he has scored 1,857 runs in 60 matches in six seasons at a strike rate of 151.34—that prompted the selectors to consider him after regular opener Jonny Bairstow was injured last month. And he reposed their faith by smacking 51-ball eighty four against Australia in Perth.

He said he felt extremely nervous before the game, as he had never imagined that he would feature in another World Cup. “It’s a chance I thought would never come round again. I want to play with a smile, hopefully get some good scores, and push as hard as I can to win a World Cup. It’s something I didn’t see happening a few months ago, especially with the firepower at the top of the order, and to get this chance, I’m just really keen to make the most of it,” he said after the match.

He admitted that he felt nervous before the game. “It was a weird one,” said Hales, who has a splendid record of1858 runs from 67T20 internationals at an average of 30 and a strike rate of 139. “I hadn’t got nervous for a long time. I don’t know what it was. I put it down to jet lag or maybe the fact that it’s heading into a huge six weeks for me and a chance I probably thought I wouldn’t get again a few months ago, so there were definitely pre-game nerves.”

But a chat with captain eased his nerves. “Jos told me on Saturday that it’s a place I’ve got a lot of experience, and that counts for a lot in T20s,”he said.

 Alex Hales England’s Alex Hales celebrates with Phil Salt after hitting a boundary during the seventh twenty20 cricket match between Pakistan and England, in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Hale was not in the initial squad, but he called up Rob Key, the managing director of men’s cricket, and demand an explanation. Then the Bairstow injury happened.“I think they announced the squad in the evening. I knew in the morning that I wasn’t in it so I sent him a message saying, ‘Do you fancy a chat?” Hales said.

“I went quite hard. I put my point across quite bluntly because I had nothing to lose. I felt I had a really strong case with my record in Australia so I thought ‘why not?’. You’ll have to ask Rob or Jos if it was a big part of me getting the call-up, but I’m glad I did it for sure,” he added.

But Key consulted with every squad member of the 2019 World Cup winning squad to ask if they had any objection. No one had, though Ben Stokes was not too enthusiastic. But the hatchet was soon buried.“There’s been no air-clearing at all. We just sat down with Jos and had a chat, and it’s been as good as gold. We’re here to win a World Cup, That’s the most important thing. We’ve had a really good chat and things have been fine,” Hales said.

He is now dreaming of an ODI comeback. “I don’t think the bug ever left me. At the moment I’m just concentrating on these five or six weeks, hopefully contributing to us going far in the tournament. And then whatever happens after that, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he explained.

“It’s just a shame I haven’t been around the last three years because I feel I’ve been playing the best cricket of my life. I’ve got some lost time to make up for,” he added.

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