Alex Hales has said he has learnt lessons from his involvement in the incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September which led to Ben Stokes’ arrest, and subsequent charging with affray, and saw Hales stood down for the final two ODIs against West Indies.
Hales helped police with their enquiries following the incident in the early hours of September 25 but in December was told he was not under investigation. That meant he was able to take his place in the one-day squad for the series against Australia, having initially returned to action in the T10 tournament in Sharjah.
“It hurt massively at the time, to miss two games for something that happened off the field,” Hales said before the third ODI in Sydney. “It is disappointing and it will make me enjoy my time in an England shirt a hell of a lot more moving forward and cherish every moment I get on the field.
“In terms of going out in the middle of a series, that is the lesson I have learned from that incident. It is about being responsible when you are on England duty.
“You have eyes all over you and that brings responsibility on and off the field responsibility on and off the field is something that will be coming into my game going forward. It has been a long few months but it is great to be back out here.”
Stokes was made available for England selection last week following the charge of affray being laid and the initial talk was that he would return for the T20s in New Zealand, but his first court appearance has been set for February 13 – the day of England’s T20 in Wellington – so now it appears the one-day series is the earliest he could come back, and it may even be pushed as late as the two Tests at the end of March.
Hales will still face a Cricket Disciplinary Commission investigation once the Stokes’ trial is concluded but for now he is able to focus on re-establishing his position at the top where there is a log-jam for batting slots.
Hales’ suspension at the end of the home season gave Jason Roy the chance of a comeback after he was dropped for the Champions Trophy semi-final. Roy responded with scores of 84 and 96 against West Indies and followed that with an England-record 180 in the opening match against Australia at the MCG.
Alongside Jonny Bairstow’s successful transition to one-day opener – where he has averaged 76.33 since taking the role late in the Champions Trophy – it meant Hales returned to the side at No. 3. He scored a half-century in Brisbane to help a successful run chase, but when Stokes is eventually able to return to the set-up it is likely to be one of the top three that has to make way.
“I missed the last two ODIs and that allowed other guys to come in and do very well,” Hales said. “Hopefully I can put that stuff in the past and now I’m looking forward to hopefully contributing to a series win. Some runs on a personal level would be great but being out there makes you realise you should cherish playing for England and the last couple of games have been really enjoyable.”