Hales targets last hurrah in 2012
Alex Hales has one more chance to impress again in 2012 tomorrow as he sets his sights on a breakthrough year for England.
Hales’ 26-ball half-century in a losing cause against India in last night’s first of two Twenty20 internationals was a timely contribution before Sunday’s announcement of two limited-overs squads for the tour of New Zealand in February.
However he fares in England’s 99th and final day of international cricket this year, at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, the aggressive opening batsman looks a likely certainty for the T20s in New Zealand.
But the 23-year-old has ambitions in all formats - and although any Test aspirations may seem a little fanciful as yet, his next stepping stone would be to sneak into the one-day international reckoning.
To that end, Hales is intent on taking all opportunities which come his way - and seeking others out too, having just signed up for a stint in the Bangladesh Premier League early next year.
He knows he can further his England prospects, meanwhile, by continuing to impress for the Performance Programme - with a view to international recognition in the 50-over format.
“There’s an up-and-coming Lions tour I’m hoping to be part of, and the Twenty20 in New Zealand,” he said. “All I can do is keep doing as well as I can and try to impress the selectors ... perform to the best of my ability whenever I get a chance.
“If I can get on the Lions tour and do well, then I hope I can put myself in the frame for it [the one-day international squad].”
Hales will go into tomorrow’s match with confidence high having made his first significant score against India following a previous aggregate of 11 runs in three innings.
“I was happy with how it went. My previous record against India - the last few games we’ve played - hasn’t been very good at all,” he said. “So I was happy I managed to go out there and showed them that I can play.”
He was immediately on the attack and it paid off with seven fours and two sixes.
“I think you have to be (confident) in Twenty20. You haven’t really got time to feel out of nick,” he admitted. “I tried to take advantage of the ball coming on nicely with the seamers at the start, and fortunately it paid off.
“That’s been my game ever since I was a little lad. It’s something I thrive on, and I hope I can keep doing well with it.”
Hales has benefited from England’s commitment, in a series of Performance Programme training camps, to prepare their young players for the challenges of sub-continental cricket.
“I found (the conditions) quite good,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of work out here over the last year. We had an EPP training camp in Pune last year; the Lions tour was in Sri Lanka, and obviously the World Cup was as well.
“So I’ve had a good bit of experience over here, and I’ve enjoyed my cricket here. It’s been a very enjoyable year. The preparation I’ve had in the last year-and-a-half has been very thorough and very professional.”
England were unable to follow Hales’ lead yesterday, despite Jos Buttler also prospering with the bat and Stuart Meaker with ball.
Hales said: “There’s a great feeling around the camp at the moment. Obviously, we’re disappointed with yesterday’s result - but we’re going to bounce back tomorrow with a lot of energy.”
Captain Eoin Morgan acknowledged last night that his inexperienced team would have to learn the lessons of Pune quickly - a conclusion an optimistic Hales echoed.
“Looking back, we can probably improve in all three aspects,” he said. “We gave away a few soft dismissals with the bat, myself included, and lost wickets in clumps - which is never ideal in Twenty20.
“We could have also been a bit more disciplined with the ball as well, so we’ve got a lot to work on. But we’re feeling positive about tomorrow.”