Home SPORTSCRICKET Alex Hales saga: From International wilderness to World Cup heroics

Alex Hales saga: From International wilderness to World Cup heroics

Alex Hales and Jos Buttler hammered unbeaten half-centuries as England crushed India by 10 wickets on Thursday to set up a T20 World Cup final against Pakistan in Melbourne

by Kolkata Today

Alex Hales and Jos Buttler hammered unbeaten half-centuries as England crushed India by 10 wickets on Thursday to set up a T20 World Cup final against Pakistan in Melbourne.

The beaming smile on the face of Alex Hales said it all as he and Jos Buttler strolled off the Adelaide Oval pitch, accompanied by the sound of cheers from the England fans.

Hales didn’t think this chance would come again.
Overlooked for England selection for three-and-a-half years, Alex Hales feared his international playing days were over.But situations change.

Thanks to a combination of water under the bridge, a new captain being installed, and Jonny Bairstow’s freak injury on the golf course, Hales is back at the top of the order for England.
And it feels like he’s never been away.
“He’s delivered in spades; he’s immensely tough to bowl at,” said Hales’ captain and opening partner Buttler after the two smashed records to send England to the World Cup Final.

Alex Hales was at his belligerent and destructive best, smashing seven sixes in a 47-ball 86* that left India’s bowling attack with no answers.

“It was fantastic to be at the other end and watch him go about his business,” said Jos Buttler, who unleashed towards the end of his own knock to finish on 80* from 49 balls.

“He has such a wide range of shots, and the dimensions of the ground, he played them fantastically well. He’s shown some fantastic form in the last couple of games.”

After three significant contributions on the bounce, with scores of 52 against New Zealand and 47 against Sri Lanka preceding the semi-final, Hales has the full backing of his captain, coach and team.
But faith in the opener hasn’t always been so strong.
A breakdown of trust after a number of incidents saw Hales jettisoned from England’s white-ball squad on the eve of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

There were few dissenting voices about the decision, but Hales subsequently remained out of favour for three further years, leaving him on the sidelines as England cemented their status as one of the world’s most destructive white-ball teams without him at the top of the order.

Eoin Morgan’s retirement earlier this year came in conjunction with the appointment of Rob Key at the ECB, and the new Director of England Cricket’s comments that Hales had “served his time” offered a glimmer of hope at a recall.
But when England’s squad for the T20 World Cup was initially announced, Hales remained conspicuous by his absence. A frustrated Hales rang Key to make his case for future consideration.
“I spoke to Alex, he rang me actually, and he argued why he wasn’t there and I think that’s quite right too,” Key revealed. “I much prefer when these people pick up the phone and say, ‘come on then, why wasn’t I there?’”
As it turned out, that future consideration came just later due to Bairstow’s golfing accident. And, after Key had called Buttler and the England players to get their approval, Hales was named as the replacement opener in the squad.

Having gone to all of that trouble and made all of those headlines to reselect him, England were always likely to pick Hales in their starting XI for the World Cup, even though there were some strong rivals for the spot, not least the destructive Phil Salt.
And the case for Hales was extremely strong.
His international record prior to that time in the wilderness was outstanding, and his domestic and franchise T20 form hadn’t slipped since 2019. In fact, it had improved.
The right-hander’s track record in Australia’s Big Bash made a particularly strong case. In 60 T20 matches Down Under in that competition, Hales has scored 1857 runs at an average of 33.16 and a strike rate of 151.34.
And while it took him some time to find his stride on his return to England colours, that stunning unbeaten 86* against India was confirmation that he is back to his best on the world stage.

Alex Hales and his T20I career:

Alex Hales has now played 74 T20Is for England, passing 2000 runs during the innings against India.
His career average in T20Is is 31.40 and his strike rate is a more-than-respectable 138.47.
He is in the top five England T20I players of all-time for both average and strike rate – behind Dawid Malan, Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root and Buttler in the former, and trailing only Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Buttler and Pietersen in the latter.

Even having missed so much of his peak, Hales is still the third-highest scorer for England’s men in T20I history, behind just Buttler and Morgan.
And the opener still holds the record for the biggest individual score for England in T20Is – 116* against Sri Lanka in 2014.
Since his return to the England set-up in September, Hales has scored 429 runs in 14 matches, with a better average and strike rate than his overall career numbers.
And his 211 runs in five innings at the World Cup so far makes him England’s top-scorer in the competition and the highest run-scorer left in the tournament.

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