England news August 17, 2014

Hales 'like nobody else we have' - Morgan


Eoin Morgan believes Alex Hales is a unique talent within the English game and has the potential to flourish in all three formats having witnessed at first hand one of his most destructive innings.

Hales, who has England's lone T20 international hundred, was named* in England's one-day squad to face India on Monday, and is in line to make his ODI debut at Bristol on August 25, as they search for a top-order combination that can provide the firepower to challenge at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. He had previously been set to come into the one-day side in West Indies earlier this year but picked up an injury and was then called in as cover against Sri Lanka but remained behind Michael Carberry in the pecking order.

He has been in prolific form of late, in the last month hitting two Royal London Cup hundreds, including a ferocious 141 off 96 balls against Middlesex at Lord's, and a century for England Lions against Sri Lanka A, a marked contrast to his fortunes earlier in the season when he was forced to briefly go on loan to Worcestershire having lost his place in Nottinghamshire's Championship side

It was the innings at Lord's that Morgan, Middlesex's limited-overs captain, was able to witness from close range having previously watched as Hales made 96 and 94 in the Championship clash between the two teams, and it reinforced his belief that he can have a successful international career in more than Twenty20.

"He's unbelievably destructive and stakes a huge claim to be selected in all three formats," Morgan told ESPNcricinfo. "His form at county level has been phenomenal and he's like nobody else we have around, with the combination of how hard he strikes the ball and the ability to take the game away from opposition.

"I've witnessed Championship form against him and he was very impressive. It was the first time I'd seen him in Championship cricket and to see where he has come from since the start of the season when he had to go to Worcestershire on loan is a huge credit to him. He has ridden the wave in recent weeks."

The make-up of England's top order is an often debated subject and the selectors have been reluctant to move away from the Alastair Cook-Ian Bell pairing which has become established over the last few years, believing they have the ability to move through the gears as needed even though the middle order, of which Morgan is part, are often left needing to up the ante whether chasing or setting a target.

If Morgan's comments are any judge, England are not about to rip up their play book - Hales splitting the Cook-Bell alliance could be as radical as it gets - although he did add that valuable lessons were learned during the one-day series in Australia at the start of this year which England lost 4-1.

"We are building for a World Cup in Australia and New Zealand were a par score will be 300-320 on the majority of grounds but before that we have the series against India, in English conditions, where going hell for leather up front just would not be helpful at all. You take a lot of risks with the conditions [in England] and two new balls.

"We've had a formula that has worked in England and now we need to find a balance between having success here and also winning in Australia."

Morgan also believes that the way England's calendar has been structured to allow them to focus solely on one-day cricket from now right through to the World Cup gives them an excellent chance of correcting a dire record in the tournament going back to 1992 - the last time it was held in Australia and New Zealand.

"It's fantastic, really. An ideal lead into the World Cup. It puts great emphasis onto one-day cricket and it gives a great opportunity to build a squad that is good enough to win a World Cup

"It's an opportunity we haven't had in quite a long time. With that, though, comes a lot of expectation and rightly so. We've a fantastic squad of players and the one-day series in Australia during the winter was a great learning curve and gave us a chance what we need squad-wise and attributes-wise for a side to be successful in those conditions.

"I think conditions will suit us. The batting wickets are some of the best in the world and I don't think the bounce is alien to us at all. During that one-day series we had chances to win but there were just areas of the game, and moments within them, that we lost at crucial moments. The fact we made the mistakes then gives us the chance to correct them."

*6.30pm, August 18: This story was updated when England squad was named

Eoin Morgan was speaking at an ECB Club Open day supported by Waitrose - an initiative aiming to get more people playing and supporting cricket in their local communities - for more info www.ecb.co.uk/clubopendays

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • siddhartha on August 19, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    Hope Hales succeed at top of the order. I would like to see England sticking with Bell as opener as he is one of the very best ODI opener in past few years. Cook should start batting at no 3. The XI for long term should be-

    1.Bell 2 .Hales 3. Cook 4. Root 5.Morgan 6. Bopara7.Buttler 8. Finn 9.Broad 10.Anderson 11.Tredwell

  • Jay on August 19, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    My 16 would be - Morgan (C), Hales, Bell, Vince, Ballance, Root, Bopara, Buttler (wk), Moeen, Tredwell, Stokes, Woakes, Jordan, Broad, Anderson, Finn.

    First X1 would depend on conditions, if its not going swing i wouldnt play Anderson as his one day record not the best.

    No place for Cook, let him concentrate on Test Cricket, hes not a one day player anyway.

  • John on August 19, 2014, 3:54 GMT

    @ArthursAshes on (August 18, 2014, 8:51 GMT), the issue with KP was that he wanted to play T20 but not ODI. England have never had an issue with players playing Test cricket only.

  • Muhammad on August 18, 2014, 18:41 GMT

    1. Cook 2. Hales 3. Bell / Ballance 4. Root 5. Morgan 6. Moeen 7. Buttler 8. Stokes 9. Jordan 10. Tredwell 11. Anderson

    Both Bell and Ballance should be in playing XI but unfortunately it isn't possible because 5th bowler is needed.

  • John on August 18, 2014, 13:30 GMT

    @ArthursAshes: the England policy is that players must be available for all short-format games. I'm not suggesting that should change. However, if Cook steps down from the captaincy of the ODI side (he hasn't played T20 for years, not because he's not been available, but because he hasn't been picked), then the decision to drop him from the ODI side becomes easier.

    In fact, Cook's been pretty good in bilateral ODI series. The problem is that the World Cup requires every performance to be outstanding, especially in the later rounds. Cook is solid, but Hales can take an attack apart, as he showed in the T20 World Championship, when England beat Sri Lanka, the eventual champions.

    It's a high-risk strategy, but if England is to win a trophy, then risks have to be taken. England has been beaten finalist in the WC 3 times. I'd like to see them win one in my lifetime.

  • martin on August 18, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    For those here who are saying that Cook should stand down or retire from one day cricket it should be noted that England have a policy that players should be available for all formats. After all, one of the issues that Pietersen supposedly had was that he didn't want to play the 50 over game and wanted to concentrate on Tests and T20. He was told he couldn't pick and choose. When he came back England did however, effectively "rest" him from the ODI team and injuries limited his one day including T20 appearances anyway. They can't make an exception for Cook unless they change the current policy, as it would look bad considering they wouldn't do the same for others. And if they change it just for Cook what does that say?

  • Owen on August 18, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Anderson??!! Even if he didn't definitely need a break, I am not convinced he is a great ODI bowler anyway. I also wouldn't be bowling Ali that much either, wouldn't want him picking up too many bad habits, Tredders and Root should be enough in the spin department. Finn, yes, get him back in an England shirt. Cook, no, he could do with a break as well. Hales and Bell to open, Ballance at three. I also wonder if they would consider picking Trott again for the ODI's, unlikely perhaps.

  • martin on August 18, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    It's interesting how lots of people jump on a bandwagon and Hales seems to be the latest, especially as England have a problem finding an opener for Cook since Strauss. Hales is a talent, but it's reported his weakness is against the short stuff. You don't get much of that in one day cricket and the standard of pace bowlers in county cricket is not the same as Test level. If it is a problem then Test bowlers will pepper him until he figures it out.

    However, the Test arena is a difficult one to be playing when your game has a technical deficiency as trying to work it out when all you play is Test cricket is near impossible. Robson and Ali have had one or two questions raised about their batting ability at Test level, both were heavy scorers in county cricket (and Robson for the Lions), both have seen Test bowlers playing to their perceived weakness. The same will happen to Hales.

    Hales deserves a chance, but if he has a weakness Test bowlers will go after it.

  • John on August 18, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    Hales is most assuredly an exciting batsman and needs to be included in the ODI team ASAP. If England want to stick with their opening formula for the up-coming series against India then bring Hales in lower down. I don't really see the point in that if things would then change for the WC. Opening with Cook and Bell is just not going to work for a WC in Aust/NZ. I could see Bell coming in at #3 but if Cook's not opening then he doesn't really have a place in the team. I agree with landl47 that it would be best for all concerned if Cook stepped down. I don't think he's done badly since returning as captain but England need more aggression at the top of the order and probably more form their captain too. With no ODI responsibilities, Cook can concentrate on Test cricket, which is really what England need him to do. If that plan were to come off then both the Test and ODI teams could benefit. Hales needs at least one more season of consistency at FC level to be considered Test material.

  • John on August 18, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    Hales will be a great addition to the ODI squad, but I don't see him as test material until he becomes more consistent. Don't forget, in FC cricket in 2013 he averaged 13.

    I have to say I think it would be better both for him and for England if Cook stands down, Morgan captains the side and Hales opens with Bell. Ballance at 3, Root at 4 and Morgan at 5; Bopara at 6, Buttler 7, Stokes 8, Woakes 9, Tredwell 10 and Anderson 11. Broad, when fit, would come in for Woakes. That's a pretty decent side; don't know if it's a WC winner, but it wouldn't be a pushover for anyone.

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