England v Australia, 2nd T20, Chester-le-Street August 31, 2013

Hales sets up comfortable win


England 195 for 5 (Hales 94, Ahmed 3-25) beat Australia 168 for 9 (Warner 53, Dernbach 3-23) by 27 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Alex Hales cannot quite be termed an out-and-out Twenty20 specialist but it is possible that he is morphing into one. It is the short-form game that increasingly seems to consume him and it provided the stage for his most outstanding display in an in-and-out summer, his 94 the basis of a comfortable England victory in the second T20 international in Chester-le-Street.

The prize of becoming England's first batsman to record a Twenty20 hundred still eludes Hales, however, although this innings did take him to the top of the ICC T20 batsmen rankings. He fell for 94 to the final ball of the penultimate over, as he dragged a low full toss from James Faulkner to long-on where David Warner plunged forward for a good catch.

Hales is one of only two England batsmen to have made 99 in a T20 international, against West Indies on his home ground of Trent Bridge last year, the other being Luke Wright against Afghanistan in the World Twenty20 in Colombo, also last year. He might have missed out on a hundred again, but he left Australia a formidable total, one which never looked to be within their compass.

The presence of Aaron Finch has stretched England's batting to new heights in the past two days. They have made two of their three biggest totals in England: the first - 209 for 6 at the Ageas Bowl - was overshadowed by Finch's world record score; this one grew in part from the awareness that he might just do it again. He did not, and the series was drawn 1-1.

On this occasion, Finch reminded everybody that he is vulnerable as anybody in a game that does not just expose fallibility, it ensures it. He made only five before he tried to pull a shortish ball from Stuart Broad and looped it gently to Luke Wright at mid-on.

Warner also had the capacity to cause mayhem and he took sixes off Steve Finn, Jade Dernbach and Danny Briggs in consecutive overs. When Finn failed to locate a swirling catch at long-on off Dernbach, Warner's luck seemed in, but he fell to the next ball - 53 from 42 deliveries - as he sliced to deep cover.

Dernbach, whose continued selection has not been universally acclaimed, had a second decent game in a row and two late wickets completed exemplary figures of 3 for 23.

Watson had been run out early, turning ponderously after Warner sent him back and beaten by a direct hit from Eoin Morgan at backward point. Shaun Marsh, some murmur, is a Test batsman who has accidentally wandered into the wrong squad; George Bailey flared briefly but he was lbw on the slog-sweep to Briggs, who later bowled Matthew Wade.

The daunting figure of Finch seemed to hang over the start of England's innings. Finch had pulverised England at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday, smashing 156 from 63 balls with 14 sixes and 11 fours, a record score in T20 internationals. Only Richard Levi has reached a century faster, a ball fewer in 45 deliveries.

With Finch's innings so fresh in their memory, it was difficult for Hales and his county batting partner, Michael Lumb, to calculate what constituted a winning score: 160? 260? If he hit with the strong, blustery wind, twice that?

Perhaps they were best advised to put Finch out of their minds completely and work on the assumption that somebody would knock him over for next to nothing. An opening stand of 111 in 11.2 overs indicates that they dealt with the problem rather well.

There was a frenetic edge to their strokeplay in the early overs, Lumb setting the adventurous tone, Hales, who needed a little more time to bed in, following suit. But England's start was a resounding one. By the time that Bailey, Australia's captain, introduced spin in the form of Fawad Ahmed, England had 74 off seven.

Hales had fifty within 34 balls, his timing coming together as he progressed. His strong leg-side play was a feature, encouraged by a couple of early offerings from Mitchell Johnson, and he had one or two fortunate moments against the short ball. In a different age, he would be a stately straight driver; in 2013, he stands tall and gives it a leg-side whack, Johnson reduced to an empty sledge on one occasion as he flew over long-on for six.

Hales has had a mediocre overall season for Nottinghamshire, a season which began with being barred from seeking an IPL contract by his county, but T20 increasingly is the format which engages him.

Lumb accompanied him well. He had seen only 40% of the strike when he gave Ahmed his first international wicket, trying to slog-sweep and skying a gentle catch to the wicketkeeper Wade.

Wright, met by Glenn Maxwell's offspin, needed time to settle and there was a definite sense that England's innings was losing momentum when Wright himself addressed the issue by taking 18 from Maxwell's second over. Finch's misjudgment at midwicket might have contributed to one of the boundaries. Wright fell to Faulkner's low full toss and an athletic off-side catch by Johnson.

Ahmed, asked to bowl the last over, unravelled Jos Buttler, who stepped away to be bowled first ball by a slower, turning delivery. Morgan, after a leg-side six, also fell to a googly at long-on. It left Ahmed with 3 for 24 to go alongside the hype. We will no doubt discover more as England's international summer culminates in a five-match one-day series.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Robert on September 6, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    by Int.Curator on (September 1, 2013, 2:24 GMT) . It may be the case with England having superior fielding than a decade ago but same can not be said of most other nations. Australia for one are no where near as good as they used to be in the field. To name only a few from a decade ago or longer compare anyone currently playing international cricket who is better in the field than Jhonty Rhodes, Herchelle Gibbs (except that WC drop catch), Roger Harper, Mark Waugh or Ricky Ponting. The South African and Australian sides of a decade ago and even longer are far better in the field than any side currently playing.

  • jared on September 2, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    @ jmcilhinney, they are good stats, your right in saying i havn't seen much of him and im not one to research alot of players stats but i have no trouble swallowing humble pie when someone who knows his stuff proves me wrong, and you are probably right with stats like that at a young age, he probably will surpass McCullum and Gayle, is he early into his career though? have bowlers had the chance to figure him out yet? he clearly has the talent time will tell if he can keep it up, good luck to him.

  • John on September 2, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    @kiwicricketnut on (September 2, 2013, 2:04 GMT), I think that you're speaking as one of the many who just haven't seen that much of Hales and are likely going on domestic results more than international. McCullum averages 35.5 and strikes at 135.5, Gayle has 33.3 @ 143.3 while Hales has 39.1 @ 136. Hales has McCullum beat on both average and strike rate and beats Gayle by a decent margin on average but loses out on strike rate. McCullum and Gayle both hit sixes more often but Hales hits more fours and, apparently, other scoring shots too. Does it really matter where the runs come from? Gayle has played half as many T20Is again as Hales and McCullum twice as many as Gayle and they both play IPL, etc. McCullum is 31, Gayle 33 and Hales 24. Right now, Hales looks as good as the other two statistically and is likely to improve as well. I think there's a fair chance that he'll score a hundred in the next 7 years, at which point he'll be the age McCullum is now; what do you reckon?

  • jared on September 2, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    hales number 1 in the world, how do these rankings work? i'd much rather McCullum in my t20 team than hales, chris gayle as well, they all open but McCullum and gayle are far superior, both have centuries in this form and i think McCullum has the most 30+ scores as well. in terms of clearing the rope and winning t20 matches its got to be mccullum or gayle surely

  • dylan on September 1, 2013, 22:48 GMT

    And to think in the preview of this match Hales was left out of the line up. The guy is now number one in the world. It just goes to show that after one failure people already want to have your heads and that can be associated with a lot of young players these days. It was a great knock by Hales I must say and hopefully he continues performing well for England in this format. I think yesterday we saw why carberry couldn't get into the side, England now have a fixed opening pair that will continue for a while I believe. And for all those bashing Butler, the guy averages about 25 @ a strike rate of close to 150, he's done pretty well for England in this format and if anything it's in ODI cricket he needs to orove himself.

  • stephen on September 1, 2013, 18:50 GMT

    D.Warner actually average's better in Tests than the short formats and his strike rate is probably similar too, figure that.

  • John on September 1, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    @Jayzuz on (September 1, 2013, 2:50 GMT) Agreed there were alot of edges etc but even Finch had his bit of luck the other night , or was that someone else who edged it through where 1st slip might have been? Still , as we've already had pointed out so many times , it was only luck , Broad cheating and DRS that won the test series for England. At least the latter 2 can't be blamed for yesterday's defeat

  • John on September 1, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    @Steve Back on (August 31, 2013, 16:53 GMT) You don't like Wright do you?

    I think he may be only the 2nd player to get within 5 of a T20I 100 and the only player to get in the high 90s and be not out. Also I believe he has the fastest 100 in the Aus BBL and is one of a handful of Eng players IPL is interested in. Yes he has a tendency at times to try and overhit the ball but alot of T20 batsmen get in that mode at times and I'd prefer a player getting out in that mode than one who stifles the RR and then gets out. Jos seems to lack confidence in England colours. He either seems to try and thrash at the ball recklessly from the word go or in yesterday's case he went the other way. I actually think he could do with either being given more responsibilty to build and inns or maybe be left out for a while. He looks under too much pressure in the England red.

  • John on September 1, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Another thing - the T20 series is 1-1. Am I alone in wishing there would be 3 T20s and 3 ODIs - so if there are no rained off games we get a series winner in each?

  • Dummy4 on September 1, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    Before you post, do some fact checking. In the last World T20, we lost to the West Indies by 15 runs and only got close because of Morgan. We beat WI in a pointless friendly, and have a poor overall record against them in T20 matches.

    Australia, in the same tournament, reached the semi-finals whereas we could only beat the might of Afghanistan and New Zealand. Do you remember us getting bowled out for 80 against India?

    And us being a poor one-day side? Well, we still got thrashed by Sri Lanka, and have still not won a 50-over tournament.

    Nice try Optic. Try again.

  • No featured comments at the moment.