Don Topley: Alex Hales needs support, not condemnation

Alex Hales has been left out of the England squad for the World Cup after battling personal issues.

Alex Hales has been left out of the England squad for the World Cup after battling personal issues. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

It’s been a disastrous ten days for Alex Hales, who has been withdrawn from all England cricket with immediate effect, including the forthcoming ICC World Cup which starts later this month, writes Don Topley.

Don Topley says Alex Hales needs support, not condemnation. Picture: PA SPORT

Don Topley says Alex Hales needs support, not condemnation. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA

The ECB have now confirmed that it is deemed in Team England’s interest that the 30-year-old batsman is not involved in their bid to win the World Cup on home soil – his withdrawal seemed to evolve following his alleged second failed recreational drugs test and the developing story becoming public.

ECB Managing Director, Ashley Giles, has, however, confirmed that this is not the end of Hales’ England career.

This latest issues for Hales follows the fine and suspension for his association with the Ben Stokes incident in Bristol.

Furthermore, he found himself in the news pages of a national newspaper whilst on tour in the Caribbean, all of which will infuriate the new England supremo Giles, who has only been in post for a matter of months.

Giles, who is keen on discipline, will be underwhelmed at seeing Hales’ name, again, in the wrong part of the newspapers.

Hales has aapparently been contrite and remorseful since receiving his initial automatic 21 day ban and even confirmed that he has been prone to making “mediocre decisions”.

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He desperately wants to spend the rest of his career trying to change his public image. Hales should be at the peak of his batting career and this week would have been excited about opening for England, as Jason Roy may still be injured, and Jonny Bairstow is confirmed rested.

Just over a year ago, Hales opted to play just white ball cricket for Nottinghamshire in a bid to become a better white ball player and sought ‘gigs’ around the world.

The consequence of just playing limited overs cricket is he will have a tremendous amount of time on his hands, especially in our summer, as he won’t be playing any four-day Championship cricket for his home club.

The old adage “the Devil makes work for idle hands” could be deemed appropriate now. Potentially he will have even more time on his hands – I hope he reverses his decision to play four-day red ball cricket for Nottinghamshire in the future.

There is divided opinion about the hard-hitting batsman who has made six England centuries. He was likely to be an England reserve opener in our best batting line-up.

One former England captain, Michael Vaughan, had suggested to ‘ditch him’ and was damning in his newspaper column.

Whilst Vaughan is at one end of the judging spectrum, a few remain at the other end. Nasser Hussain – who was initially severely critical of Hales – is also concerned about the England World Cup team so very close to the tournament.

Hussain said: “Some of the England cricketers have waited over four years for this event and does having Alex Hales in the England team improve England’s chances of winning the World Cup or is it better to have him away from the squad – what’s best for team England now?”

Hussain goes on to make an excellent point: it’s not all about what Ashley Giles, Trevor Bayliss or Ed Smith at the ECB are going to do, it’s now really about what Hales is going to do about himself.

Yes, all agreed, he is an important role model for youngsters, but clearly support and care for Hales from his family, friends, PCA and Nottinghamshire is now vital.

Being a professional cricketer with everything that is associated with a high-profile career and a high salary is a tremendous privilege and a great honour with many sacrifices to be made – clearly, Hales may have forgotten this of late.

Throwing the key away, or a long-term ban, might not be helpful for Alex Hales the person – he is not just at a crossroads of his cricket career, but the crossroads of his life and I, sincerely, hope he comes through.

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