Hales given IPL green light
England batsman Alex Hales has been cleared to play in the Indian Premier League after extending his contract with Nottinghamshire until 2016. According to the new deal, Hales will be granted time off to play in the next three seasons of the IPL, which clashes with the first few weeks of the county season, subject to him securing a contract in excess of $400,000 per year.
Hales, who has played 21 T20 internationals, is currently the top-ranked batsman in the ICC T20 rankings. Samit Patel has also been granted permission to enter the auctions next year and will be given a similar exemption if he also secures a top-bracket deal.
Hales expressed his happiness on reaching the agreement and said he was looking forward to the three T20s against Australia after the Ashes. "I'm pleased to have come to an agreement with Notts because I want to spend my entire career here and I hope that will happen now that I've been given the opportunity to enter the auction," he said.
"I'm not aware of specific interest from any given IPL franchise but I'm focused on performing well in the Big Bash because there are a lot of eyes on that tournament. I'm hoping to be involved in the Twenty20 matches between England and Australia which I hope can give me a platform to demonstrate my skills and stir interest from IPL teams."
Hales also said he considered focusing only on T20s after struggling for form in the County Championship this year. "Last season was tough for me because I was sky high in two formats and at rock bottom with the red ball," he said. "It did cross my mind to go freelance and focus on Twenty20 full time but I've had time to think and I'm still driven to do well in four-day cricket and to break into England's one-day set-up."
Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, Mick Newell, said it was important for them to strike a balance between Hales' opportunity to earn a substantial amount of money and the team's needs. "We were very keen to secure an extended commitment from Alex, he was understandably keen to enter the IPL auction and there was a mutual will to find a compromise that we could all live with," Newell said.
"It's hard for us to deny an individual the opportunity to earn life-changing amounts of money but the team also has to be considered so it made sense to allow him to enter the auction to see if there is sufficient interest in his services to secure a high-value contract."
Hales will depart for Australia early next month for a stint with Adelaide Strikers in the BBL. Nottinghamshire hope to sign an established batsman as cover for Hales for the opening weeks of the domestic season, while discussions with Michael Lumb, Hales' England opening partner in T20 and another who has expressed ambitions to play in the IPL again, are ongoing.