Frustrated Hales wants to shake T20 tag
Alex Hales has admitted his frustrations at the disjointed start to his season that has seen him bat in three positions for two counties while being unable to force his way into England's one-day side.
Hales will have a day back in the spotlight on Tuesday when he faces Sri Lanka, the team he scored an unbeaten 116 against in the World T20 - England's first hundred in the format - but believes it is unfair if he is already considered purely a T20 cricketer. He would have had a chance in the ODI side on the West Indies tour if he had not suffered a late injury.
With England looking to form a side for the World Cup next year in Australia and New Zealand, Hales was a contender to shake up the top order for the forthcoming series against Sri Lanka but the selectors, including new coach Peter Moores, instead went for recalling Michael Carberry alongside the current opening pair of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell.
There remain concerns about Hales' technique for the longer one-day game, although his List A average of 33.26 alongside a strike-rate of 99 is far from poor, but England's limited-overs squads were picked without any domestic white-ball form to assess at the start of the season.
It appears Hales is still suffering for his dire 2013 first-class season, where he averaged just 13.94, and the belief from the England management is that opening in one-day cricket requires the skills to see off the moving ball.
When asked if he thought it was too early for him to be ring-fenced as a T20 player, Hales said: "A little bit, yes, and I think it's a little bit harsh. Up until last year, when I had a shocker with the red ball, I'd averaged 40 opening at Trent Bridge which is not a bad record at all.
"I'm keen to learn from last year and move on, I think it's too early to be pigeon-holed as a T20 player. I am working hard on other aspects of the game. I feel if they gave me a chance this summer I'd be ready for it. I've seen a lot of Sri Lanka and seen a bit of India and feel I'd be ready if the chance came along."
It has not been the ideal start to the season for Hales as he looks for some stability in his cricket. He has already been out on loan to Worcestershire, having lost his place in Nottinghamshire's Championship side after one game (where he scored a half-century), before being recalled by his home club and has batted in a variety of positions.
"The stuff so far has all been red-ball cricket and it has been a little of everything for me - batting at No. 6, then off on loan to Worcester batting at No. 4, then opening last week. So I haven't really had chance to knuckle down with the red-ball stuff. That's been the story of the season so far, dealing with that frustration."
Hales, therefore, has one chance, in the short-term at least, at international level when he resumes battles with the Sri Lankans at The Oval less than two months after taking them for a breathtaking hundred in Chittagong. Then it will be back to the domestic game as he aims to push his claims for the World Cup place.
"In England you do get some seam movement, so you do need some form of solid technique opening up, but with the World Cup being in Australia on pretty flat pitches if I score my runs for Nottinghamshire I think that will be pivotal when it comes to selection in the winter."
It remains to be seen who partners Hales at the top of the order in T20, following the axing of Michael Lumb. Carberry would be a like-for-like replacement in terms of power but Bell is also in the squad, although has not played a T20 since 2011. Moeen Ali could be another option depending on how England want to balance their side.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo