February 1, 2023



Chris Woakes says England players would welcome back Alex Hales | Sport

3 min read

Alex Hales would have the backing of the England dressing room in the event of a surprise recall this summer, according to Chris Woakes.

Woakes was among those consulted by the limited-overs captain, Eoin Morgan, before Hales was dropped on the eve of last year’s World Cup win after it emerged the opener had served a 21-day ban for a second recreational drug offence.

But while Morgan stated that trust still needs to be rebuilt and “11 months is actually not that long ago”, the sudden need for a pool of up to 45 players to cover England’s rescheduled Test and limited-overs summer could prompt a rethink.

At the age of 31, it is possibly a case of now or never for Hales, at least while Morgan remains captain. Should the respected leader’s view mellow in light of the extraordinary circumstances then Woakes expects the rest of the setup to fall in line.

Woakes said: “I’m a believer that people serve their time, so to speak. He’s gone through a tough time being left out of the World Cup; going on to see that team lift the trophy must have been difficult for him. I think if people have gone away for a time and worked on their weaknesses they should be allowed a second chance. Alex is as a world-class player. In a way I felt sorry for him but I understand the decision from the management, captain and rest of the team.

“I don’t 100% know what will happen but I’d be happy to see Alex back in England colours. I would imagine the majority would have the kind of views I have given. I don’t know why anyone would see that any differently. We have a culture and an environment in the England squad we all try and pull in the right direction. If Alex is willing to do that then I imagine everyone would be happy to see him back.”

The white-ball team’s goal of a second global title will probably be delayed by the expected postponement of the T20 World Cup in Australia this October (the slot for which looks set to be taken by a rescheduled Indian Premier League). It means the Test team will take priority selection-wise this summer – if that was not already the case – and not least since movement between formats is likely to be restricted by the bio-secure measures in place.

Although he is the leader of the attack in one-day internationals, Woakes is among the red-ball bowlers who resumed individual training during the past two days with an hour-long session at Edgbaston that included five overs bowling at “50%” and fitness work, supervised at a distance by the Warwickshire physio, Gerhard Mostert. His day began with a temperature check at home, the results of which are entered into an app, before arriving at the ground in full kit, making regular use of the hand-washing stations and training with a batch of balls that only he is permitted to touch.

A temporary ban on using saliva to shine the ball is expected to be confirmed by the International Cricket Council and so the 31-year-old expects players will need to work harder to get swing during the proposed six Tests against West Indies and Pakistan.

Woakes, who has been forced to train wearing an alice band due to 12 weeks without a haircut, said: “From a bowler’s point of view we’ve just got to find a way to shine it for harder and longer to find a way of getting some shine on the ball. Thankfully it’s a Dukes ball and not a Kookaburra this summer, because then we would be struggling. I’m sure we will find a way of getting some shine and making sure it does move off the straight.

“The venues and counties have tried to make this [return to training] as safe as possible and in my eyes they’ve done a really good job.”

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