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