England in South Africa 2015-16 February 16, 2016

Prolific Hales switches focus to T20s

ESPNcricinfo staff

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.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • bishwajeet on February 17, 2016, 7:51 GMT

    The conditions in india r slightly different than in uae, pitches in uae turn but its usually slow turn but in india the ball will rip and turn thus giving the batsmen less time to adjust ...and the pitch will be even drier giving such assistance to spinners with puff of dust coming out in a few venues kanpur,rajkot to name a few ...the only good thing from england's perspective is that india is not in their group so bcci might not influence the curators in those venues where india is not involved and the other matches not involving india might provide some of the best batting paradises or some pitches with good even bounce with a bit of turn ..and yes they should take good spinners with them ..since sooner or later the ball is gonna spin better be prepared since india boasts of the best spin attack in the world

  • Clad on February 17, 2016, 7:32 GMT

    So much hypocrisy here. One minute KP's performance in the PSL in UAE is proof that he should be in the England WT20 squad, because the conditions are very similar to India, and the next minute 'England is the only team in their group with very limited sub-continental experience. UAE is not sub-continent and so that experience doesn't count here.' If it doesn't count then neither does KP in the PSL there then. Actually, England are the only non sub continent team to have played in sub-continent conditions recently (yes UAE IS sub-continent conditions) which is why I think they stand much more of a chance than the likes of Australia, NZ, SA & WI. Also, how is Buttler vulnerable against spin when he has only just 2 months ago scored a 46 ball ton on a turning track against the likes of Yasir Shah & co??

  • Dennis on February 17, 2016, 5:01 GMT

    @DSA...Completely agree with you. 5 of the top seven batsmen are very vulnerable against spin. Hales, Roy, Stokes, Buttler and Morgan himself can either go big when the spinners are not getting assistance or can fold in a pack in case of moderate to high assistance to spinners. Based on the pitch and opposition, England would do well to select or leave either of Stokes or Roy. On a turning pitch against Sub-continental team, we should have Ali opening with Hales with Roy warming the bench. Bopara's selection would have been crucial. I still believe, he and Luke Wright should be in this squad even if England don't wish to give KP a last chance. Anyways, the chances of progressing beyond group stages look very slim due to the venue (Sub-Continent), the group England are in and overlooking of players experienced in these conditions. England is the only team in their group with very limited sub-continental experience. UAE is not sub-continent and so that experience doesn't count here.

  • Devinderpal Singh on February 16, 2016, 21:58 GMT

    I have said it a few times, so once more is not an issue: England have the players, currently, to be champions in limited-overs cricket, but they refuse to pick their best team because of their snobbishness and love for all that is Empire-related. It is funny how most teams' starting eleven and squad would change quite a lot, depending on where a tournament is being hosted, but if the WT20 was hosted in Eng or S.A, would Eng's only change be Dawson for a fast bowler? Absolutely, and given Eng's struggles against/disgust for spin across formats, it highlights their snobbishness that their squad is essentially what they would pick for a series in Eng/pace-friendly countries. Adjusting slightly from a previously mentioned squad, my 15 would be:

    1. A.Hales, 2. M.Ali, 3. J.Root, 4. R.Bopara, 5. J.Buttler, 6. S.Patel, 7. J.Bairstow, 8. A.Rashid, 9. and 10. 2 of L.Plunkett, S.Finn and R.Topley, 11. J.Tredwell.

    J.Vince, J.Taylor, R.Whiteley and the 3rd omitted pace bowler as squad players.

  • Clad on February 16, 2016, 14:05 GMT

    There are obviously some players that struggled in the ODI's and therefore they particularly need to fire in the 2 T20 matches in view of going to the WT20 with confidence - Roy, Morgan, Ali, Jordan & Buttler. I include Buttler even though he obviously started the ODI series well, because he is such a confidence affected player - as soon as he gets a run of low scores he can struggle for a while. Let's hope he gets his first T20I century!

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