October 4, 2022
T20 World Cup – Why Alex Hales’ England return could define Jos Buttler’s captaincy?


On Friday, after news of Jonny Bairstow’s freak leg break became public, with confirmation that he was out for the rest of the year, Jos Buttler was already venting feelings about his replacement in the T20 World Cup squad .

The identity of the alternative was undoubtedly in his mind. Alex Hales was the keynote speaker during the first selection meeting last week, before the 33-year-old was decided to do without the opener. And with that decision, taking him on a seven-T20I tour of Pakistan, as some form of reunion was seen as a waste of his time and a place for a young batsman to gain valuable international experience. as was seen.

Butler was very supportive of Hales at the meeting, including limited overs coach Matthew Mott and men’s managing director Rob Key. He also understood the awkwardness of bringing back a player who had been out with a wider group since a second failed drugs test in the build-up to the 2019 50-over World Cup. Now he wanted to see how strange it really was.

He called the senior members of the group to know their views. Once it was known that this would not be a problem, again the selection sat down a bit more comfortably.

The official call from Key came just days after the pair discussed why Hales didn’t make the original cut—a conversation instigated by Hales. Butler also spoke to Hales and told him that the rest of the team was receptive to his inclusion and above all, the limited overs captain was happy to have him back.

However, it was telling that Ben Stokes, one of whom he consulted last Friday, focused on praising the player rather than the person. “When it comes to the big moments in the game and World Cup games, knockout games, you want your best players to take that pressure and he’s definitely one of them,” said the Test captain at the Kia Oval. The eve of the third and final Test of the summer with South Africa. When asked about his current relationship with Hales, he replied in a much less emphatic way: “We both have the same goal of winning the World Cup.”

Stokes’ reaction was to be expected. He addressed Hales in his documentary as “his friend of the time”. Ben Stokes: Ashes to Phoenix When revisiting the Bristol Street Fight in September 2017, any questions on the matter during press junkets were quashed by the present PR. But the widespread feeling is that Hales gives England the best chance of success in Australia.

Since taking the last of his 141 caps against the West Indies on March 10, 2019, Hales has been one of the best short-form batsmen in the world. His 4,587 T20 runs are second only to Babar Azam (4,639). Even more impressive is the fact that, of the 16 batsmen who have scored over 3,000 runs during this period, Hales has the highest strike rate (152.74), and only above 150. His work experience for Nottinghamshire, Trent Rockets, Sydney Thunder, Islamabad United, Barbados Tridents and Durban Heat will be invaluable. In many ways, that’s a luxury – a reliable, world-class plug-and-play option in the most volatile format.

However, form was never the issue, even though Key cited it as the sole deciding factor when the original squad was selected. Even Eoin Morgan, the strictest advocate of Hales’ time in the woods, never doubted his virtues in the middle. There was a “huge breakdown in trust” throughout the issue and a “complete disregard” for the values ​​that Morgan’s team took four years to establish.

Morgan always said that time would be the healer, and perhaps it has been in ultra-quick fashion. Because it’s hard not to be surprised at the high-profile and coincidental sequence of events that led us to this point.

In the midst of all this is Buttler’s ascension to white-ball captaincy, which has finally bundled these factors together and missed the reality. She and Hales were great friends, and even though the relationship turned sour in 2019, Butler still seems to be very affectionate.

The main friction between Hales and the England group occurred when a statement on the second failed drug test was issued stating that he would be “unavailable for selection for personal reasons”. The ECB directive was for discretion, but many, including Butler, were concerned that Hales was struggling with other issues and needed time away from the game.

This concern turned to anger when there were reports of genuine indiscretion in the media, with some believing he had been deliberately misled by Hales. This escalated when it was realized that Hales showed little remorse when rejoining the ODI squad for a training camp in Cardiff a month before the start of the World Cup. He left early when Morgan, along with director of cricket Ashley Giles and head coach Trevor Bayliss – who had struggled to trust him after the Bristol incident – agreed that he would only be disruptive to the group at the most crucial moment. was going to make an impact. his career so far.

Even during his time away from the England set-up, the controversy plagued Hales. Last year he “categorically denied” allegations made by Azeem Rafiq before the DCMS committee that he had named his black dog “Kevin”, after a word he and Gary Balance allegedly described as people of color. Used to do That too was under an ECB investigation when Sun Published photos of him in blackface from 2009, when he attended a party dressed as rapper Tupac Shakur.

Indeed, after Hales is back on the field, some ECB figures will now be somewhat cautious. There is an indescribable feeling that trouble begins to find him.

Clearly, Butler is not one of them. As such, it may rank as the most important call during his tenure. In its own way, it feels like a decision that clearly makes this ODI team its own. After just four victories in 12 white-ball matches as full-time captain, there was a concern that Butler was struggling to assert himself, a side approaching the end of his life cycle, and one that was still in place for his predecessor. had an identity. Hales’ presence gives Butler a little more ownership.

For approval, the runs would be any and all bridges of bricks, steel and mortar that the Helles may need to be rebuilt. Actually, that is the crux of the matter. Above all, the management group, players and butlers rely on their cricket.

ESPNcricinfo. Associate Editor of Vithushan Anthrajah

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