England’s one-day captain Eoin Morgan is confident that Alex Hales will be able to focus on his game after being made available for selection, following confirmation by police that he is no longer a suspect in the incident that took place in Bristol on September 25, although it seems likely he won’t immediately earn his place back in the starting XI against Australia.
Hales has been included in England’s 16-man squad for the one-day series against Australia which follows the Ashes, having been omitted from the last two ODIs of the home season against West Indies following events in Bristol. Ben Stokes is also currently part of the squad but his participation depends on a decision from the Crown Prosecution Service, after their charging advice was sought by Avon and Somerset Police.
Hales’ position in the squad could yet come into doubt, should the CPS take no action against Stokes and the issue is handed to the Cricket Discipline Commission, but for now Hales is back in the mix and Morgan has no concerns over his state of mind.
“I’m very confident he’ll be able to move on. I think that’s dictated by the performances he puts in and the hard work he puts in, but I’ve no doubt his head is in the right space to do that,” Morgan told ESPNcricinfo.
“It’s very pleasing to have Alex back, when the news broke it was going to be a boost to the squad in what I think will be a tough series in the New Year and that starts off 2018 for us, which will be quite a significant year for us in growing what we’ve established as a team, and he remains a vital part of that.”
Whether Hales walks back into the side remains up for debate from a cricket point of view, however, following the successful comeback for Jason Roy when he took Hales’ spot against West Indies. Roy scored 84 and 96 to finish a disappointing summer on a high after losing his spot for the Champions Trophy semi-final.
Alongside the prolific introduction of Jonny Bairstow as an opener – he has scored 345 runs at 115.00 in the six matches since he replaced Roy – it means England are overloaded for top-order options. England coach Trevor Bayliss has suggested that Bairstow and Roy will both retain their positions at the top, but it is a dilemma Morgan is happy to have.
“It was unfortunate that Jason couldn’t turn a corner for the semi-final or the lead into it and the opportunity fell to Jonny, which was great,” Morgan said. “He had grafted over the last two years and every opportunity he got he managed to cash in. I think the performances from Jason in the last two games against West Indies were outstanding.
“It’s never easy when you’ve been dropped to come back in and score runs and it’s quite evident that when he does he’s a dominant force at the top of the order. Performances like that always create an interesting conversation in selection – it’s done that for two years now and it’s epitomised the hunger to get into the XI. It’s been difficult at times but it’s a pleasure to play in such a strong XI.”
Eoin Morgan was speaking on behalf of Royal London as they marked two more years of one-day cricket sponsorship.