Alex Hales ends England’s pre-World Cup opener with Borders jab against Australia | Cricket News
If there was any doubt that Alex Hales would open for England in the T20 World Cup, that has now been ruled out after beating Australia’s attack in Perth.
When the team line up for their tournament opener against Afghanistan at the same venue on October 22, it seems certain that Hales and Jos Buttler will be in the lead, with the pair looking to replicate what they achieved at the Optus Stadium on Sunday during an opening. partnership of 132 from 68 balls.
There was no doubt that Buttler, fitness permitting, would be in England’s top two and he showed his mastery of the white ball with 68 from 32 on his first shot since August after overcoming a problem at the calf.
But the emergence of Phil Salt – who hit England’s highest individual tally of 88 from 41 balls in the recent 4-3 T20I triumph in Pakistan – had put pressure on Hales and suggested he was not unsure if the now reinstated Nottinghamshire slugger would be in England’s World Cup XI.
That seems to go without saying now after pumping out 84 from 51 deliveries – an innings that contained 12 fours and three sixes – and continued his love affair with Aussie conditions.
Hales has extensive experience Down Under, amassing more than 1,800 carries in his 60 career Big Bash League innings at a strike rate over 150.
It was the main reason his three-year exile for off-field reasons ended once Jonny Bairstow – the man who was due to open with Buttler in the World Cup – was ruled out after an early fall on a Yorkshire golf course which resulted in a broken leg.
On Hales’ World Cup opener, Buttler said: « Things change quickly in sport, but he’s got the first chance, by the minute.
“It was a really tough decision, we spent a lot of time debating and thinking about it. It was really only Alex’s record in Australia that got him going.
“He has re-established himself very well and he has played fantastically well here. He’s a really destructive player, he accesses all areas of the court and is intimidating to bowl.”
In his temporary pundit role, Bairstow used words like « clinical » and « exhibition » to describe the tumultuous opening stand between Buttler and Hales, with 22 frontiers to come in their partnership in total. Buttler reaching fifty from 25 balls, Hales a slower lick at 29 deliveries.
Hales dubbed Buttler the « best white ball player in the world » during a halftime chinwag with the host broadcaster, but Hales is a formidable proposition in his own right. Big and with long levers, he can find the fence and even crash into you, even if he doesn’t center the ball.
There were a few bounds hacked on Sunday, with top edges, inside edges, and far from the smoothest connections earning him runs.
But there were also clean sixes over the heads of Daniel Sams and Marcus Stoinis, a belted four from Cameron Green on the cover and tricky placement as he stroked Nathan Ellis to the edge of the backspot.
Hales looks as much at home on Australia’s bouncy pitches as he does at home at Trent Bridge.
Hales on the English side of the T20 seems to be working. He was the first player to score a T20 international ton for the men’s team – his 116 steps against Sri Lanka in 2014 remain their highest tally in the format – and has been involved in all four of their best team partnerships. opening T20I of all time.
Sunday’s volley with Buttler ranks second on that list, behind only the unbeaten 143 he and Michael Lumb put up against New Zealand in Wellington in February 2013.
So Hales has racked up the T20 milestones for England, but Ben Stokes hasn’t – save for the undesirable of never getting past fifty for his country in the format after a run-a- nine ball against Australia.
There are caveats to that, with Stokes’ previous appearance at the T20 International in March 2021 added to the fact that he had only struck in the top three on three occasions prior to that game.
When he trotted out to the first drop on Sunday, he didn’t really have time to settle. The sight of Stokes heading for the wicket as opposed to the usual No 3 Dawid Malan showed that the plan was to hit Australia harder and rely on the quick start by Hales and Buttler.
Stokes couldn’t quite handle that, with his rounds containing as many grabs and chin smashes – Stokes timed under the grid after failing to nail a reverse sweep attempt – as limits. His four solitaries edged rather than in the middle before dragging on.
The left-hander was bound to be rusty having not played an innings at all since England’s last summer Test against South Africa in mid-September and not having played a clean ball kick since he made five in his one-day international retirement against Proteas in July.
Getting the most out of Stokes has been seen as essential if England are to go any further in this T20 World Cup and the spot they have reserved is No 4, as opposed to the opening role where he broke a ton IPL in 2020 and the No.5/No.6 berth where its impact was previously limited to T20s.
Stokes is such a talented and cerebral player that he’ll probably make it work – No. 4, on paper, looks perfect for him, in that he can take the game if necessary, but also assess and try to settle the situation if the wickets fall. the power play, just as they did in England’s three defeats in Pakistan.
England are still looking to maximize Stokes in this format, despite knowing full well how to get the most out of Hales. Dive it up and let go.
He missed out on the Stokes-inspired 50-year-old World Cup triumph in 2019 but could now be crucial in their pursuit of T20 silverware.
Follow England’s three-game T20I series in Australia on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. Our live blog from the second match, in Canberra, will begin at 8.45am on Wednesday before a 9.10am start. Then catch all the T20 World Cup matches live on Sky Sports from Sunday 16 October.