Alex Hales has tried hard to overcome his tag of being a mere T20 slogger © Getty Images
Alex Hales has tried hard to overcome his tag of being a mere T20 slogger © Getty Images

by Julian Guyer

Nottingham: Aug 29, 2014

Alex Hales said on Friday that he was looking forward to establishing a One-Day International (ODI) opening partnership with Alastair Cook despite all the calls for the England captain to quit limited overs cricket. Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann, labelled a “so-called friend” by Cook earlier in the week, reiterated Friday his calls for the skipper to quit one-day internationals.

England’s 133-run defeat by world champions India in the second of a five-match one-day series in Cardiff on Wednesday led tall-rounder great Ian Botham to write off the team’s chances at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. One consolation for England was that Hales marked his ODI debut by top-scoring for the team with 40 and sharing a fifty stand with Cook. “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but the guys in the dressing-room are 100 percent behind Alastair,” said Nottinghamshire batsman Hales at his Trent Bridge home ground, where the third of a five-match one-day series with India takes place on Saturday.

“If you look at his record in one-day cricket it’s a pretty good one,” said Hales of Cook, who has a one-day strike rate of nearly 80 in ODI cricket. “All the guys are backing him to lead from the front as we look to bounce back in this series. Hales added, “We’ve just played one game and we got off to a pretty good start with a fifty partnership. He’s a very technically sound guy and he’s the right guy at the top of the order. If we both play our natural games, I hope that partnership will come together nicely,” said Hales, who has a strike rate of nearly 100 in domestic limited overs cricket.

Hales’s previous England appearance at Trent Bridge saw him score 99 in a Twenty20 international against the West Indies two years ago. Hales, who scored England’s first century in cricket’s shortest format against Sri Lanka at the World Twenty20 in March, said he was looking forward to representing his country again in Nottingham. “I’m expecting a very good wicket. Usually the one-day wickets we play on here at Notts are outstanding batting tracks and I’m expecting a high-scoring game.”

Asked about the mood in the England camp after Wednesday’s crushing defeat, the 25-year-old Hales said, “We’re not hiding from the fact it was a poor team performance all round. “But we spoke about it, wiped the slate clean.” Reflecting on his first experience of facing India’s attack, Hales said, “They were just very cunning. Once I got past 30, they were one step ahead of me. So it’s up to me to put that right, and have that game smartness heading into tomorrow (Saturday). They set smart fields, had a guy at gully a lot of the time to stop that easy one down to third man.”

The 6ft 5in Hales’s call-up to England’s 50 overs per side team has capped a notable recovery for the powerful batsman, who started the season on-loan at Worcestershire after averaging jut 13.94 in the first-class County Championship for Nottinghamshire last season. “It’s a dream come true and all the better particularly after how last season went in first-class cricket,” said Hales. “I’ve had to work really hard to show people I can be more than just a Twenty20 slogger.” And with Australia-born Sam Robson’s position as Cook’s opening partner in Test cricket being called into question, Hales said he still had ambitions to play five-day cricket for England.

“It’s always been my dream to play Test cricket,” he said. “I’m ready to work hard and earn that spot, I hope.” Hales added he had been encouraged by the Test performances of several attacking opening batsmen. “David Warner, Chris Gayle, Virender Sehwag, those guys are attacking opening batsmen. I think there is space for it. But it’s going to come with a lot of hard technical work, and that’s up to me.”

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014