Alex Hales will miss England tour of Bangladesh as Pakistan Super League pays more
Alex Hales, one of the stars of England’s T20 World Cup triumph, is set to miss the tour of Bangladesh to play franchise cricket in Pakistan and honour a lucrative £145,000 contract.
Hales returned to the England side for the first time since 2019, when he failed a recreational drugs test and was dropped for the ODI World Cup, to play a crucial role in the T20 World Cup win in Australia in November. He hit 186 runs in England’s last four games, including 86 not out during the 10-wicket semi-final victory over India.
But Hales is now set to miss the tour of Bangladesh, England’s first T20 action since the T20 World Cup. Instead, he will remain committed to his contract with Islamabad United in the PSL. Hales was signed as a platinum pick, and stands to earn upwards of £145,000 ($180,000) for the competition.
To leave a portion of the PSL and represent England in Bangladesh, Hales would lose a significant sum of money, with England match fees for players without national contracts - in the region of £5,000 and £2,500 for ODIs and T20Is - worth considerably less than franchise payments.
England play three T20 internationals and three ODIs in Bangladesh, with the series being played from March 1-14, and although Hales remains firmly in the national team’s plans going forward he has chosen to stick with his franchise commitments over national team duty.
England are highly understanding of the situation and have not put pressure on Hales. Indeed, the national team have become increasingly aware that the franchise circuit now pays more, with a series of cricketers who would have been picked for the Lions - the national second-string - this winter not selected so that they could play in franchise leagues instead.
Rob Key and Mo Bobat, England’s managing director and performance director, have taken a pragmatic, flexible approach to overseas leagues. They recognise that it is unfair to demand that players without the certainty of national contracts lose money to represent their country and that players going back on previously agreed franchise deals could jeopardise their future appeal to sides too.
For all the challenges it can present, overseas franchise cricket is also valued for giving players access to high-quality cricket that will improve their games.
The circumstances are particularly unusual in the case of Hales, who looked unlikely to play for England again until an injury to Jonny Bairstow granted him a recall to the T20 World Cup squad, which he had not previously been selected in. He had already planned his winter schedule, and how to balance T20 leagues with time at home and with his girlfriend. Aged 34, Hales is also trying to secure his long-term financial future in preparation for his eventual retirement from the game.
England are still open to Hales appearing in the ODI World Cup in India. Hales has not played any format of the game longer than 20 overs since 2019 - because of a combination of his first-class retirement and the Hundred clashing with the domestic 50-over game. But he has a fine ODI record for England - averaging 37.79 with a strike rate of 96 - and his T20 World Cup campaign showcased his qualities against leading international sides.
After the last ODI against South Africa on Wednesday and the three ODIs in Bangladesh, England only have seven more ODIs - four against New Zealand, and three against Ireland, all at home in September - scheduled before their ODI World Cup defence in India in October.
Hales would need to appear in the summer ODIs if he was to be a viable pick for the World Cup. He is among a series of options - along with Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Phil Salt, Will Jacks and James Vince - to open with Jonny Bairstow in England’s World Cup side.
The next T20 World Cup is in West Indies and USA in June 2024. Despite his absence in Bangladesh, Hales remains central to England’s plans for that competition.
Hales has been in outstanding form in the ongoing International League T20 in the UAE, topping the tournament run-scoring charts with 434 runs at 86.80 apiece and a strike rate of 158.