Alexander Daniel Hales
January 03, 1989, Hillingdon, Middlesex
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
It will surely be one of the regrets of Alex Hales' career that he may be remembered more for what he missed than what he achieved.
Despite a central role in the resurgence of England's limited-overs team following the debacle of the 2015 World Cup, Hales missed the 2019 version after it emerged he had served a ban for a second drugs test failure for a recreational substance.
The ban need not have excluded him from the tournament. But the England management - and England's senior players - appeared to decide that Hales' behaviour had, in Eoin Morgan's words, constituted "complete disregard" for team values and amounted to "a complete breakdown of trust between the team and Alex." He was left out of that World Cup squad and missed out on a central contract at the end of the season.
Hales had already seen allowed his position as first choice opener to slip away. Suspended from the ODI side in the aftermath of a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub in September 2017 - he was subsequently suspended and fined for his role in the incident - his absence afforded Jason Roy a recall. Roy responded with innings of 84, 96 and 180 in his next three ODI innings and, with Jonny Bairstow also excelling at the top of the order, Hales was relegated to the role of first reserve.
There was no doubting the yearning when Hales made his ODI debut for England against India at Cardiff in 2014. If English cricket was still not debating the enforced removal of Kevin Pietersen from international cricket, it was arguing over the conservative approach towards one-day batting at the top of the order. Hales, a tall batsman with a destructive range of offside drives and cuts, was one of a brazen new breed of England batsmen who changed the conversation into something much more positive.
It took 32 international Twenty20 appearances - strikingly good figures, too, with an average of 38 and a strike rate approaching 140 - before Hales finally won ODI recognition from England selectors who mistrusted his technique against the short ball and his ability to build an innings.
There followed a comparable wait before England considered a further transition - from ODI batsman to Test opener. His 24 ODIs had brought modest success - his average in the mid-20s - but a timely maiden ODI hundred against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi helped to propel him into England's Test squad for their 2015/16 tour of South Africa as he became the eighth opener to try to fill the gap left by Andrew Strauss' Test retirement more than three years earlier. England had exhibited a wish to play a more expansive game at Test level and that worked in his favour.
Eleven Tests from the Boxing Day meeting with South Africa in Durban in 2015 until The Oval brought down the curtain on the 2016 English summer against Pakistan represented a decent run in which to establish himself, but he did not take easily to the tempo and technique at Test level. In three successive Tests against Sri Lanka - at Headingley, Chester-le-Street and Lord's - he passed 80 without securing the maiden Test century he craved and which might have been a harbinger for better things. When he chose, along with his limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, not to tour Bangladesh for safety reasons (the tour passed off uneventfully amid high security) he also found himself omitted from the subsequent India tour because of his doubts about his capacity against spin bowling.
In one-day cricket, though, his prowess was evident. When he lashed 171 during the third ODI against Pakistan on his home soil at Trent Bridge in 2016, he broke the England record previously held by Robin Smith for 23 years. Hales' innings also helped England achieve the highest ever team ODI score in the same game - 444-3, bettering the previous record of 443 by Sri Lanka back in 2006.
Early in February 2018, Hales committed himself solely to limited-overs cricket by signing a white-ball only contract with Nottinghamshire and playing IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He had averaged 27.28 in his 11 Tests, and prospects of further opportunities were minimal, although he did signal his intention to reconsider his future after the 2019 World Cup. His ODI form remained occasionally devastating and he struck 147 during that rarest of things - a whitewash in a one-day series against Australia
At 6 foot 5, Hales has always hit with a stately intent. His England T20 debut came in 2011, to which he responded after a debut duck against India by scoring an unbeaten 62 off 48 balls as England beat West Indies at the Oval. In his first Twenty20 international of 2012, against West Indies again, he failed by one run to become the first batsman to score a century for England in the short format on his home ground of Trent Bridge, in June. He promised much in a largely ill-starred England campaign in the 2012 World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, although his innings tended to run out of steam. That first hundred by an England batsman finally came in the 2013 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh when he made an unbeaten 116 from 64 balls against Sri Lanka in Chittagong, striking a six over midwicket to secure a last-over victory.
His reputation in T20 cricket grew and he earned a late deal with Melbourne Renegades for two matches of the 2012/13 Big Bash. His debut brought a brutal 89 in just 52 balls at the SCG.
In four-day cricket he initially progressed well, earning his county cap after scoring 184 against Somerset at Trent Bridge on his way to topping 1,000 first-class runs in the season for the first time, despite missing almost seven weeks of the campaign with a broken jaw. He added 857 first-class runs in 2012, including two centuries in August.
But there followed a disastrous 2013 Championship season in which Hales virtually lost interest and averaged 13.94, being advised by England as a result that he was in danger of becoming a two-dimensional Twenty20 specialist. He decided to work harder on his four-day cricket - although only after he was overlooked in the IPL 2014 draft. English players were often passed over, with their availability so uncertain, but this omission was more curious than many: his reputation had not spread outside England. No matter, he settled into Championship cricket with 954 runs at 50, perhaps his finest Championship season.
He had been part of England's ODI squad to the West Indies but missed out on a debut through injury. Finally, three one-day hundreds in as many weeks for Nottinghamshire, including a 96-ball 141 against Middlesex, added to the clamour for his selection. The time was finally ripe.
Sporting talent is in his genes, as his grandfather once took Rod Laver to five sets at Wimbledon.
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