'I thought I wouldn't get this chance again' – Hales expresses pride at England recall

·2-min read

Alex Hales feared he would never play for England again with his international exile set to end during the T20I series opener with Pakistan.

The explosive batsman has been named in the squad for next month's World Cup in Australia, having last played for England in a T20I fixture against West Indies in March 2019.

Hales was dropped from that year's World Cup-winning squad after testing positive for recreational drugs prior to the tournament, while then white-ball captain Eoin Morgan cited a "complete breakdown in trust" for his continued exile since.

However, the 33-year-old was recalled after an injury to Jonny Bairstow, and could open on Tuesday when England play the first of their seven-matches series in Pakistan.

"[Being left out of the 2019 World Cup squad] was extremely painful," he admitted. "It's your worst nightmare: to be involved in a World Cup squad, missing out on the eve of it.

"It was brilliant to see the team lifting it, but at the same time, it eats at you inside that you should have been part of it, and you weren't.

"I guess that drives you on, to improve as a person and a cricketer and get that spot back that you feel you deserve.

"I did think that the chance would not come again, for sure. At times, I felt like I wouldn't get this chance again.

"I felt like I'd been playing the best cricket of my career over those three years as well, so to get this chance again at this time is something I'm really proud of and something I'm really looking forward to. I feel like I can help push this team forward."

He continued: "I think I have changed. I've definitely matured. I'm comfortably into my 30s now and turning into a veteran. I feel as though I've grown as a person. Where I am at the moment – on and off the field – is probably the best of my career so far.

"I'm treating this as a blank canvas and only looking to the future now. I'm really looking forward to the next two weeks in Pakistan and what the World Cup can bring."