Hales craves Test chance after rampant ton
Nottinghamshire 404 for 5 (Hales 189, Mullaney 112) v Warwickshire
If we ever discover whether Trevor Bayliss would have embraced Kevin Pietersen had the new regime in England cricket decided to let bygones be bygones earlier this year, it will not be any time soon. In that regard, though, his attitude towards Alex Hales may be informative.
If Hales would like to emulate any of the England players he has admired as his own game has developed, it is Pietersen. He discovered at an early age that his height and reach gave him an advantage as a batsman and extravagant hitting soon became a hallmark of his style. Hales, too, has a touch of the showman about him, undaunted - indeed, driven on - by big crowds.
He is the only England batsman to score a century in international Twenty20, in which format he also has a 99 and a 94. When he landed an opportunity to go to the IPL this year, even though he was only making up the numbers for Mumbai Indians towards the end of the tournament, he regarded it as one of the most exciting moments of his career.
Yet he craves recognition in all formats, not only in the longer limited-overs version, in which England's ambivalent attitude towards him was still evident during the World Cup, when he was selected only when England were on the verge of a humiliating exit, but in Test cricket, where Pietersen thrived and where David Warner has proved that supposed T20 mavericks can adapt in not only nailing down a place in the Australian Test side but landing the job of vice-captain.
There is no doubt at all now, after some up and down times in the early part of his career when he struggled to master the differences in approach needed to be successful in all formats, that he can dominate high quality bowling in the Championship. Back in April he made 236 against Yorkshire and if there is another attack that rivals the champions for all-round potency it is Warwickshire's, against whom he would have had a second double hundred of the summer had he resisted impetuous urges just a little longer.
Having hit 28 fours and two sixes in making 189 from 215 balls he tried to hit Chris Wright over the top and was bowled middle and off. Until then, although he had technically been dropped at backward point on 12 - in truth a difficult chance for Ian Westwood from a ball travelling at speed - there had been few errors and a good many passages in which it was difficult for any of the Warwickshire bowlers to contain him.
Four times he hit three fours in the same over, off Keith Barker, Jonathan Trott and twice against Boyd Rankin. Both his sixes came off Jeetan Patel, the first driven down the ground, the second a superbly timed pick-up that cleared the longest boundary.
Candidly, Hales admitted that while he tries not to think about his prospects of playing Test cricket, it is difficult not to. Asked if this might be his moment, he said he feels ready.
"I can't get ahead of myself but I feel as ready as ever have done for Test cricket and I'd love to get the chance," he said. "I've felt in good form all year. I went through a bit of a slump in the middle of the season, getting myself out but I'm motivated to finish the season well.
"I hope it's my time. I feel I'm playing as well as I ever have done."
Hales has worked hard to eradicate the shortcomings in his game that previously let him down in four-day cricket, particularly in shot selection and knowing when to leave the ball.
"In the past I'd waft at balls outside stump but I've made a few small changes to my technique that are paying off.
"I've had a good two years in the Championship after a slump in 2013. I've still got a lot of work to do in this game and what remains of the season but I feel my game has come on and if the challenge comes up I'm ready for it."
As if to prove the point, in terms of readiness to step up to the next level, his three scores against Warwickshire this season have been 86 not out in Twenty20, 103 in a 50-over match and now this.
There was another hundred scored. Steven Mullaney, a solidly honest performer in all forms of cricket, was rewarded at last after a season in which he has averaged in the 30s without posting many stand-out scores, completing his first Championship hundred since late in 2013 as he and Hales put on 257 for the second wicket, a record for Nottinghamshire against Warwickshire.
William Porterfield, standing in as captain with Varun Chopra rested because of a wrist injury, saw little reward until late in the day for his decision to bowl first. The pitch played better than anticipated and while the ball "swung all day" according to the batsmen, Porterfield's bowlers were not able to exploit it as they would have wished.
Rikki Clarke was probably the pick, while Rankin picked up two wickets through his ability to find extra bounce. Rankin left the field early after feeling dizzy, apparently the result of clash of heads with Wright as Warwickshire celebrated a wicket, which is one for the catalogue of bizarre injuries. He is expected to be well enough to resume on the second day.