Prolific Hales switches focus to T20s
Whether Alex Hales remains England's opener for all formats will not be decided until May when the next Test team is selected, but he has given himself every chance of a second crack after his prolific one-day series against South Africa. For now, though, the focus turns to the version of the game where he first grabbed the attention at international level, with two T20s to conclude this tour ahead of the World T20 in India.
Hales enters the T20s against South Africa after becoming only the third batsman in history to make five 50+ scores in a five-match ODI series. It took him a little while to crack the code in ODIs - his first half-century came in his 11th innings - but runs had flowed earlier in his T20 career. He struck an unbeaten 62 in his second match against West Indies, in 2011, which was followed by a 99 against the same opposition in 2012.
Regular contributions followed - including an unbeaten 80 in Wellington and 94 against Australia in Durham - but it was in Chittagong when the world really took notice as he hammered an undefeated 116 against Sri Lanka, England's first (and still only) T20 international hundred.
His returns in 2015 were a little slim - scores of 27, 3, 8 and 11 in four matches - but he could not wish to be entering the format in better form.
"I feel in good enough touch," he said. "The pitches we play on out here should lead to some high-scoring games so if I get myself in, I hope I can go big."
And Hales believes he is part of a T20 side that has the ability to repeat England's success at the 2010 World T20 in West Indies where they secured what remains their only piece of global silverware.
"It's definitely the best side I've been involved with in Twenty20, with a hell of lot of young ball-strikers and a good bowling attack as well," he said. "I think it's a really exciting time with the talent and firepower we have in our squad, people who can hit sixes all the way down to No. 11. I think we've got a good chance."
Reflecting on the one-day series which got away from England despite their 2-0 lead, Hales admitted there were some "sloppy" mistakes at times but that it should not make the team change the style of play they have produced since last year's World Cup.
"The way we've played in the last year, we're going to have to take the rough with the smooth. Sometimes, we are going to make sloppy mistakes like we did but I still think we've done some pretty good stuff over the last year, and we've got to stick to our basics.
"If you look at the guys you've got in your squad, it's everyone's natural game to play that way. Sometimes we are going to make mistakes and people will point fingers - but we've still got to stay true to ourselves."
And with T20 the next port of call, there will not be any holding back.