Grandson of the talented tennis player, Dennis Hales, who once forced Rod Laver to five sets at Wimbledon, Alex Hales, is known for playing with a dash of adventurism. Carrying his 6’5”…
Grandson of the talented tennis player, Dennis Hales, who once forced Rod Laver to five sets at Wimbledon, Alex Hales, is known for playing with a dash of adventurism. Carrying his 6’5” frame just as elegantly, he has emerged as an aggressive and clever top-order batsman.
He first came into sharp focus at the tender age of 16 when he hit 52 runs off a single over, finishing unbeaten on 114, playing at the London County Cricket Club’s Founders Day at Lord’s in 2005. Three years later, he was signed by Nottinghamshire and had a fairly decent summer, playing limited overs cricket. In 2009, he hit 150 off 102 balls in the Pro40 game against Worcestershire.
Hales represented the England Under-19 squad in 2008 that toured New Zealand and smashed three half-centuries. He was then included in the English Performance squad in 2009-10 and later went on to play for the England Lions for the entire 2011 summer.
In Friends Life T20, Hales top-scored for Nottinghamshire, hitting 544 runs at an amazing strike-rate of 147. He was named PCA young player of the year at the end of the campaign, having scored 1,000 runs in the First-Class season that included a brilliant 184 against Somerset. The 2012 season proved equally fruitful as he compiled 857 First-Class runs which included two hundreds.
Although on the international scene, Hales began his crusade with a duck against India in 2011, he fought back with a gritty knock of 62 off 48 balls against West Indies at The Oval. Later, in 2012, he fell short of a fine century by just one run and missed the record of becoming the first England player to score a T20 century, while amassing a match-winning 99 against West Indies at his home ground, Trent Bridge. He continued to play in every game for England at the World T20 in Sri Lanka in September that year, scoring 124 runs in five innings before England’s campaign came to a premature halt. He, once again, came close to hitting a T20 ton when he scored a scintillating 94 off 61 balls against Australia in August 2013.
The aggressive batsman, known for his excellence in T20 cricket, then earned a deal with Melbourne Renegades for the 2012-13 Big Bash. Capitalizing on this late opportunity, Hales scored a blistering 89 off 52 balls on his Big Bash debut at the SCG. From being Nottinghamshire’s star batsman to England’s dynamic Twenty20 player, Hales has proved to be an ingenious forerunner of the young English brigade.
Hales has been an essential part of England’s T20 squad. He was selected for their tour to West Indies in Feb/March 2014 and played the first two T20Is. Despite an important knock in the second game, he was not able to help England secure a win. Ranked as the No. 1 batsman by ICC in T20I cricket, Hales, gave a glimpse of his power-hitting in the 2014 World T20, as he smashed Sri Lanka all over the park to become the first batsman from England to score a T20I hundred. The knock also helped his side achieve a stunning victory in that game and it remained the only hundred in the entire tournament.
The voice for the inclusion of Hales in the ODI side gathered momentum after the opener had some stellar performances in the T20 format. The time eventually came in the home series against India, where he made his debut in Cardiff. However, he didn’t have the best of series, but the selectors stuck with him for the Sri Lanka tour, even there he disappointed. Though he was picked for the 2015 World Cup, he was down the pecking order as Ian Bell and Moeen Ali opened the batting for all games but one, against Afghanistan, which England won.
A massive beneficiary of England’s 2015 World Cup drubbing and the subsequent overhaul, Alex Hales stood out in the ‘New England’ side. Now with the license to play his natural aggressive strokeplay, he amassed runs at the top of the order, partnering with Jason Roy, he turned around his side’s fortunes. This included a Man of the Series trophy for getting four consecutive half-centuries in South Africa. The cherry came when he lit up Trent Bridge in 2016, with his 171-run blitz against Pakistan as England piled on 444, the highest ever ODI total.
He came in with a reputation of being a T20 specialist, with a dodgy technique outside the off-stump. He however did make it to the Test side with middling success in his early games. In the post-Strauss era with England struggling to find a settled opening partner for Alastair Cook, Hales was one of the many options tried out. The selectors however ran out of patience after a run of 11 Tests.
England’s loss turned out to be Nottinghamshire’s gain. He utilized his time out of the Test side putting together some stunning performances for his county, playing a vital role in taking his side to the title in the Royal London Cup and the Natwest T20 blast.
The limited-overs leg tour of India in Jan 2017 saw Hales picking up an injury to his hand. Having come into the series in a rich vein of form, it was a setback for him after having failed in the first two matches. He made his comeback for the tour of West Indies a couple months later and announced his return in style with a cracking century. Thereafter, Hales has enjoyed a good year although the form has dipped just a touch since later stages of the Champions Trophy. Nevertheless, he remains a vital cog of England’s limited-overs outfit as well as the T20 franchises that he features for.