Cricket Expert & Columnist
Alex Hales deserves another chance with England after serving punishment, says Nasser Hussain
"I'm not into this elite mateship or winning back trust - pick your best players when they are available. I feel they are being a bit harsh on Hales, who is a very talented young man"
Last Updated: 29/05/20 11:03am
Nasser Hussain believes Alex Hales deserves another chance with England and has urged the side not to "shoot themselves in the foot" by overlooking him.
Batsman Hales was dropped prior to England's triumphant World Cup campaign last summer after reportedly failing a second drugs test and has not played for his country since.
England captain Eoin Morgan said on Wednesday that the 31-year-old may have to wait longer for a recall with the off-field incident that led to his axing potentially "costing us four years of hard work" - and Hales was subsequently left out of a 55-man training group for the summer, which was announced by the ECB on Friday.
Asked by Ian Ward on The Cricket Show whether Hales deserves to be in England contention again, Sky Sports Cricket expert Hussain said: "Yes, in my opinion. He has done the crime and certainly served the time.
"He has missed out on a World Cup win and one of the great months of English cricket, one of the great finals, one of the great days ever at Lord's. Is that not enough of a price to pay?
"I feel Morgan is pushing the point just a fraction, to be honest. I don't know how Hales wins back the trust of the team if they don't give him another chance. I feel they are being a bit harsh on him. He has been out of the team for a year and missed so much cricket.
"What I would have said is 'you have done your time and are now available for selection but I'm afraid you are at the back of the queue because of what you did [and because others have played well], so you must wait your turn'.
"I'm not into this elite mateship or winning back trust - pick your best players when they are available and Hales is a very talented young man.
"Also make sure your principles are for everyone across that team - just because you are maybe not in the inner circle or may not be quite as liked, don't have one principle for him and another for a really nice, popular lad. Be careful with those principles, too, and don't shoot yourself in the foot.
"We were all applauding that World Cup win but if Jason Roy's hamstring injury had lasted one week longer and he was out for that one week when England won three games in a row [beating India, New Zealand and Australia to make the final] it might have been a different World Cup.
"James Vince [Roy's replacement] was struggling a bit and Hales would have been the perfect fit. If Hales gets runs and other people are failing, he should be considered for selection."
Hussain's fellow expert and former England captain, Michael Atherton, said: "If you ask where my sympathies lie, they are with Morgan.
"You have a man there who has transformed England's fortunes from the shambles of 2015, while Hales spectacularly shot himself in the foot ahead of what should have been the biggest six weeks of his professional life.
"Like Nasser, I am not particularly into this 'culture' thing that Morgan and [Test captain] Joe Root have driven for the last few years but it's not my team, it's their team. They believe it is important and they build it around the three pillars of unity, courage and respect.
"I think there is bit of baloney in that, to be honest, but they think those values have been at the heart of the push since the Ben Stokes incident in Bristol in 2017.
"Hales is a brilliant player and I think it would be very hard to argue that he doesn't get in your best T20 side, although he hasn't played 50-over cricket for over a year and if you were asked for England's strongest aspect you would probably say one-day batting. The 50-over side is a particularly difficult team to get back into."
Hales has scored six ODI hundreds for England, including their second-highest individual score off all time when he smoked 171 from 122 balls against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 2016.
On whether he would be happy to team with Hales again, England seamer Mark Wood added: "Yes and no, I guess.
"If that trust isn't there with the captain and management then I think it is very hard for the rest of the players to jump on board with that. Once they are comfortable with it and the trust is back the players might be open to him coming back.
"I'm sure he would be treated exactly the same. The only thing that is difficult is if a player has come in and done really well do you just leave them out to have Alex come back in?
"He is obviously a fantastic player but if someone has worked hard to try and get that opportunity do they deserve the chance more than him? I don't know.
"That's for the top brass to talk about but he would be welcome back if that trust was built back up from the people above."