Alex Hales taking confidence from stellar BBL record ahead of T20 World Cup

Alex Hales draws comfort from his past success in Australia, knowing he has “the game and the record” to hit form at any point for England at the T20 World Cup.

The biggest factor in Hales being selected ahead of Phil Salt to open the batting alongside Jos Buttler for the recent T20 series win over Australia was because of his reputation in the Big Bash League.

Hales has amassed 1,857 runs at an average of 33.16 in the competition but it is his strike-rate that truly sets him apart. No one with 1,000 runs or more has a strike-rate better than Hales’ 151.34 for several teams.

Alex Hales has starred in the BBL in recent years (Tim Goode/PA)
Alex Hales has starred in the BBL in recent years (Tim Goode/PA)

He hit the ground running in Australia following his recent international recall with 84 off 51 balls in Perth, which is where England start their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on Saturday.

While he has had three single-figure scores since then – albeit one in a low-key practice match against Pakistan earlier this week – Hales believes his history Down Under acts as a bit of a safety blanket.

“It is just nice knowing I have proved myself in these conditions,” he said.

“I know if things don’t happen for me straight away I have the game and record to bounce back at any point in the tournament.

“My biggest thing is I just want to enjoy it. It is a chance I didn’t think I would get again. I will play with a smile and hopefully perform as well.”

Hales was referring to his three-and-a-half-year international exile – which ended last month – having been discarded on the eve of the 2019 50-over World Cup after failing a second recreational drugs test.

The incident threatened to derail England’s campaign – although they went on to emerge triumphant – and they have been dealt a blow here with the loss of Reece Topley to a tournament-ending ankle injury.

Topley, a reliable bowler at either end of an innings, was likely to feature this weekend so Hales was full of sympathy for the 6ft 7in left-arm seamer being ruled out just days before England’s opener.

Reece Topley has been ruled out of the T20 World Cup (Simon Marper/PA)
Reece Topley has been ruled out of the T20 World Cup (Simon Marper/PA)

“It is very tough,” Hales said to BBC Sport. “As athletes, dealing with injuries around huge tournaments is a very bitter pill to swallow.

“I have been there, slightly different circumstances, he will be disappointed but no doubt will bounce back in the future.”

Tymal Mills was one of England’s three travelling reserves but has now been brought into England’s 15-strong squad to replace Topley, with Luke Wood summoned to join the back-up group.

“He is excellent T20 operator,” Hales added of Mills. “He has very good skills – a very skilful and deceiving slower ball – and can bowl 90mph-plus. He is a huge asset to have in our side.”