England in West Indies 2016-17 February 23, 2017

Fit-again Hales in line for West Indies tour recall

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WATCH - Hales' exhilarating ton

Alex Hales is set to join England's ODI tour of the Caribbean.

Hales, who missed out on selection for the original squad after sustaining a broken bone in his right hand during the ODI series in India, is due to have a scan on the hand on February 27. If that scan shows nothing untoward - as is expected - he will fly out to join the squad in Antigua next week.

Even if the scan suggests he is not quite ready for a return to action, it is likely that Hales will continue his rehab with the squad in Antigua and Barbados.

Hales scored three ODI centuries in 2016, including an England-record 171 against Pakistan at his home ground of Trent Bridge.

His place in India was taken by Sam Billings, who is also expected to open in the tour's two warm-up matches in St Kitts. That could leave the tour management with a tricky decision over whether to recall Hales, who will not have played since January 19, for the ODIs or allow Billings the opportunity to stake his claim on the position. The first ODI takes place on March 3.

The management are certainly keen to find a way into the side for Billings. But with Hales having formed a strong opening partnership with Jason Roy, it may well be that Billings requires an especially persuasive performance in the warm-ups to win a longer stay in the side.

They have a similarly tough decision to make about Jonny Bairstow. He was called into the side in place of the rested Joe Root for the final ODI in India and responded with a half-century. But, with Root back and England's middle-order of Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes looking relatively settled (though each of them will float up and down the order as the situation demands), Bairstow finds himself battling for selection once more.

He has, at least, excellent memories of the St Kitts ground where England begin this tour. It was here, almost two years ago, that he unveiled his new stance and back-lift for the first time. Drafted into a weak-looking St Kitts Invitational XI to provide tougher opposition for England, he responded with 98 against an attack that included James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes. He has subsequently averaged 63.36 in first-class cricket with 25 scores of 50 or more in 55 completed innings.

"Yes, it all started here," Bairstow said as he looked out across the ground on Thursday. "Well, here and in the indoor nets at Headingley.

"But match-wise this was the first place I took the leap and tried something different and I've stuck with it. It was the first time with my new technique and I scored 95 [actually 98]. I ended up playing against the lads and things kicked on from there. So I've good memories of coming back here."

Such competition for places bodes well for an England team with realistic hopes of winning their first global ODI title when the Champions Trophy takes place later this year.

"We know if we put the performances together like we've been doing 80-90 percent of the time, there's no reason why we can't go and win the Champions Trophy and a World Cup," Bairstow said. "I firmly believe we're a special squad.

"I don't know how I nail a place in the team. I've said as long as I can get into that XI, I don't care where I bat. I'd like to think the form I've been in over the last 18 months is strong enough to push my case."

Meanwhile, Paul Collingwood is with the squad in the role of fielding coach. The Durham captain, still playing at 40 years of age, was captain of the only England men's team to have so far won a global limited-overs tournament (the World T20 in 2010), and joins up with Graham Thorpe (batting coach) and Paul Farbrace, who assumes the role of head coach from the rested Trevor Bayliss.

Jonny Bairstow was speaking on behalf of Waitrose, official team sponsor of the England cricket teams.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. He will be covering England's tour of the Caribbean in association with Smile Group Travel

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. He will be covering England's tour of the Caribbean in association with Smile Group Travel.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bernard Arthur on February 24, 2017, 17:28 GMT

    I think that Bairstow is one of England's 3 best Test batters and that he is also an excellent white ball batter, so I would definitely want him at No.5 in the Test team and be quite happy for him to play in ODIs too, if there were a place for him. Buttler is clearly a magnificent batter in white-ball cricket, but I am not completely convinced that his abilities are suitable for Test cricket. In any case, I doubt whether it is convenient for any player to participate at top level in all the formats in order to avoid staleness. So I would be happy for Buttler to be selected just for the white-ball formats at which he is so excellent. Although Bairstow seems to have worked hard to improve his keeping and certainly has improved considerably, I still retain doubts about whether either of these players is a good choice to keep wicket for England. If a high-class specialist keeper could be found, especially for the Test team, I would be much happier.

  • geoffs8103821 on February 24, 2017, 15:49 GMT

    Jos Buttler is recognised as a far better keeper than Bairstow Jackiethepen has never let England down with the gloves. Where Bairstow has many times notably in the uae and last Summer against Pakistan and Sri Lanka he only had one decent series against India. Buttler as a batsman was one of the highlights of the Indian tour not out three times.He has always said test cricket is his priority so how does he prioritise short form. Bairstow is a class batsman but batting no5 in tests and keeping is not possible

  • stephe2084436 on February 24, 2017, 13:29 GMT

    couldn't agree more with Jackiethpen. don't understand this obsession with having buttler in the test side. he's had his chances but hasn't delivered in red ball cricket, also his keeping is no better than YJB s. buttler is essential in odi form, but doesn't always come off (India 2017). YJB has shown time and again that he can be relied upon.

  • Jackie on February 24, 2017, 13:00 GMT

    Can't agree with Cricfan. Buttler isn't a beginner now and he's not so far delivered in Test cricket which demands higher standards from batsmen. Buttler has concentrated on the short form of the game and prioritises that - like Morgan - over red ball cricket. It has consequences. As for Bairstow? Surely any ODI side in the world would include him as a batsman on his current form? He has been outstanding and appears to be very underrated by England. Ever since he saved England from a hole at Durham against NZ he has shown aptitude and skill as an ODI batsman on more difficult pitches. Unless you can always rely on flat batting pitches suitable for the big hitting brigade he should be picked. The ICC apparently are concerned at the balance between bat and ball in ODIs. So change might be on the way?

  •   jamesandersan on February 24, 2017, 2:46 GMT

    England batsman hales come back in fitness good opportunity to take revenge

  • geoffs8103821 on February 23, 2017, 22:22 GMT

    Hales deserves another chance with the odi team based on performaces of the last year, but he is under big pressure to perform especially after opting out of Bangladesh. As for Bairstow he should continue to bat at number 5 in tests and his chance will come in odi team Buttler to keep in all forms of the game to big a talent to be left out.

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