Alex Hales' redemption story: From three years in wilderness to ICC T20 World Cup 2022 success
It is a redemption story written in the stars. A couple of months ago, Alex Hales was not even in the scheme of things for England's ICC T20 World Cup 2022 campaign.
It is a redemption story written in the Stars. A few months ago, Alex Hales wasn't even considered for England's ICC T20 World Cup 2022 campaign. Hales spent three years in the wilderness after being cut off the World Cup roster in 2019 due to a failed recreational drug test. He had gradually come to terms with it and was vacationing with his partner for four weeks in Cape Town when fate intervened.
When Jonny Bairstow unexpectedly injured his ankle while playing golf in September, he ultimately could not compete in the T20 World Cup, which left the door open for the opening position. Hales banged that door down with a series of scintillating performances, including an unbeaten 47-ball 86 against India in a World Cup semifinal.
"I never thought I'd play in a World Cup again, and to get a chance is a special feeling," the 33-year-old, who had made his England debut way back in 2011, said after setting up England's final date with Pakistan.
Hales was one of the key protagonists in England's transformation from the humiliating World Cup loss in 2015 to the dominant force in white-ball cricket during the following four years. However, his relationship with England management and the team's top players was irreparably destroyed by the failed drug test, with then-captain Eoin Morgan delivering a critical assessment of the opener.
The three-week suspension ahead of the 2019 World Cup turned into months and then years as he was ignored for the 2021 T20 World Cup.
Hales, who represented England in 11 Tests and 70 ODIs, shifted his focus to the shorter format in 2019 and went on to play in the IPL (six games in 2018), PSL, CPL, BBL, and The Hundred.
Despite spending three years away from the national team, Hales remains England's third-highest run-scorer in T20 Internationals from 2011 to 2022.
Hales was called up for the team's seven T20I series in Pakistan and two T20Is in Australia before the T20 World Cup as a result of Bairstow's injury. With 211 runs at a 52.76 average and a strike rate of 148.59, he emerged as the team's best run-scorer in this World Cup, thanks to his plethora of experience on Australian soil.
His innings of 52 and 47 were essential to England's victories against New Zealand and Sri Lanka, but his incredible 86 not out against India was the cherry on top.
"A huge occasion, really happy with the way I played. I think this is one of the best grounds to bat in in the world. Great value to hit your shots with the short square boundaries, and a ground I have good memories at," said Hales during the presentation.
Hales has been outstanding so far, but when England plays Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final on Sunday, everyone will be hoping he has saved his greatest performance for last.
(With inputs from PTI)