Alex Hales, the England opening batsman who was present at the arrest of Ben Stokes in Bristol in September, will mark his return to action this week when the inaugural Ten10 League gets underway in the UAE.
Hales had been withdrawn from England selection by the ECB following the incident outside Mbargo nightclub on September 25, in which Stokes was allegedly caught on camera throwing punches at two men. Both players missed the final two ODIs of the English season, against West Indies at The Oval and the Ageas Bowl, with Stokes subsequently being withdrawn from England’s Ashes squad.
However, Hales was informed last week that he was no longer under police investigation and, having been named in England’s ODI squad to tour Australia and New Zealand in the New Year, he was granted a No-Objection Certificate by the ECB to play for Maratha Arabians in the T10 League.
“I was disappointed not to be out there on the [Ashes] trip,” Hales told reporters in Dubai. “But if I was out there, obviously I wouldn’t be here. When one door closes, another one opens.”
England’s Ashes campaign remains tainted by the fall-out from the Bristol incident, with the team not only 2-0 down in the series, but facing endless questions in the media about their off-field behaviour, in the wake of the headline-generating antics of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Duckett in a bar in Perth.
Hales, however, refuses to write off their hopes of a comeback, in spite of Australia’s daunting record at the Waca in Perth, a venue where they have beaten England in each of their last seven Tests.
“They definitely have got it in them, but it is going to be tough,” Hales said. “The Waca is one of Australia’s best ground for them to play at home. But the guys are tough. I know them all really well as a team, and they are tough individuals.
“I think they missed out at Adelaide, because they had chances to win the game there. They will know that.
“I don’t see why they can’t turn it around in Perth, and suddenly at 2-1, it is anyone’s for the taking.”
In the meantime, Hales is preparing to take a leap into the unknown with the T10 League. It is a format that he hopes will suit his hard-hitting game, but he admits, the pressure to keep the scoreboard moving will be intense.
“Being tall with long arms helps me get under the ball, so I’ve got some things in my favour,” he said. “But there will be more pressure because you haven’t got as long to get in as you usually would.
“In T20, if you face two or three dot balls, you have a little bit of time to build your innings, but 10 overs will creep up on you very quickly.”