Alexander Daniel Hales
January 03, 1989, Hillingdon, Middlesex
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium
Alex Hales' central role in England's T20 World Cup win in 2022 ensured he would be remembered for what he achieved, rather than what he missed. Three years earlier, Hales had watched England lift the 50-over World Cup from his sofa; he was dropped a month before the tournament after news of a failed recreational drugs test broke in the media, prompting what Eoin Morgan described as "a complete breakdown in trust" between him and his team-mates.
He did not play for England again under Morgan's leadership and was initially left out of their squad for the 2022 T20 World Cup. But Jonny Bairstow broke his leg on the golf course while the squad was being announced, and after discussions with Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott, Rob Key decided the time was right to end Hales' three-year international exile.
He played warm-up series against Pakistan and Australia but came to life when England's knockout hopes were on the line, hitting 52 and 47 in must-win games against New Zealand and Sri Lanka. And in the semi-final at Adelaide Oval - a ground he had grown to love while playing in the Big Bash League - Hales hit 86 not out off 47 balls, including seven sixes, as England cantered to a 10-wicket win over India with four overs unused.
Hales made only 1 in the final but England still beat Pakistan by five wickets at the MCG; having feared his chance had gone, he finally lifted a World Cup. Nine months later, he decided that he should bow out on a high and retired from international cricket, reconfirming his continued availability in franchise leagues.
At 6ft 5in, Hales was always a destructive players who thrived against fast bowling and was considered part of a brazen new breed of England batters when he made his international debut in 2011. Sporting talent is in his genes - his grandfather once took Rod Laver to five sets at Wimbledon - and Hales was the first Englishman to score a T20I hundred, an unbeaten 116 against Sri Lanka in the 2014 World T20. It still took three years for him to make his ODI debut and the consistent mistrust of his skills in 50-over cricket encapsulated England's struggles heading into the 2015 World Cup. He was only brought into the side when qualification was on the line, and even then asked to bat out of position.
He was backed and emboldened by Morgan, Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace after the World Cup, who retained him in their one-day side even when he endured a lean 2015 summer. ODI hundreds in Cape Town and Abu Dhabi over the 2015/16 winter vindicated their decision and in 2016, he broke Robin Smith's long-standing record for the highest score by an Englishman in ODIs, hitting 171 off 122 as England racked up a then-record 444 for 3 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge.
By that stage, Hales' brief Test career had come and gone. England picked him for a tour to South Africa in 2015/16 and he played 11 times for them in all, hitting five half-centuries with an average of 27.28. But his strike rate of 43.84 spoke of a batter who found himself shackled by Test cricket, rather than liberated. In 2017, Hales allowed his position as first-choice opener to slip away. He was suspended from the ODI side in the aftermath of a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub in September 2017, also involving Ben Stokes, which gave Jason Roy the chance to make a successful comeback to the side; Roy and Hales had previously formed a spectacular opening partnership, but Roy's with Bairstow was even better. In February 2018, Hales committed himself solely to limited-overs cricket by signing a white-ball-only contract with Nottinghamshire and playing the IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He struck 147 at Trent Bridge during that rarest of things - an England whitewash in a one-day series against Australia.
He was due to spent the 2019 World Cup as England's spare batter, ready to fill in whenever injury struck, but a second failed test for recreational drugs left him in limbo under the ECB's regulations: he was banned for 21 days, but the reason was not made public; Nottinghamshire said "personal reasons" were behind his absence.
The truth was revealed by the Guardian while England were at a training camp in Cardiff, blindsiding Morgan. Morgan met with senior players and told Bayliss and Ashley Giles that Hales had to go. Hales spent the next three years travelling around the world, filling his boots in franchise leagues and waiting for a recall, which finally came in 2022.
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