T20 a help to youngsters - Hales
Alex Hales believes England’s crop of emerging batsmen are benefiting greatly from their experiences in Twenty20 cricket.
The 22-year-old Nottinghamshire opener shone on only his second international appearance last night, thumping 62 not out from 48 balls in a 10-wicket hammering of West Indies in the first of two matches at the Kia Oval.
Jonathan Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler were also included in a home team packed with exciting young talent, although Hales’ unbroken partnership of 128 with Craig Kieswetter ensured the trio were denied an opportunity to enhance their burgeoning reputations.
With less than 12 months to go before England begin the defence of their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka, competition for places appears intense.
Yet Hales insists the inexperienced members of the squad will not be daunted by the prospect of starring at the highest level.
“It is only a good thing for English cricket – a healthy competition from young players all around the country,” he said.
“Twenty20 has helped it because you can go out there and play with freedom and back yourself. Those big decisions can be made in Twenty20 and that has definitely helped people ease their way into international cricket – they don’t have too much fear of losing their wicket.
“Something I have learned from playing with Notts at the top of the order is to have no fear, to go out and put into action what you practice in the nets without fear of failure – that is something that has helped me a lot.
“The young guys in the changing room have all grown up playing Twenty20 since we first broke into first-team cricket and we have had to learn our trade doing that. There are some real good young strikers in the team who I am sure you will see more of in the next few years.”
Although Hales accumulated his runs at a rapid rate yesterday, he rarely strayed from the orthodox.
He added: “I have always been an attacking-instinct batsman ever since I was young. At the same time you still score runs playing proper cricket shots and that is something I try to stick with in Twenty20.
“It seems to be paying off in domestic cricket and hopefully I can continue that into international cricket.”
Having been dismissed for a second-ball duck on debut against India last month, Hales was understandably relieved to get off the mark quickly on this occasion.
He carved the first ball of England’s innings through point for four and later explained: “I am just glad (Darren) Sammy bowled that first ball where it was, short and wide.”
Asked whether his previous international experience had played on his mind, Hales added: “I tried not to think about it.
“The guys were very positive and I just tried to go out there and do what I do for Notts and thankfully it paid off. Hopefully it will again on Sunday.
“It is a completely different feeling. It is from one end of the spectrum to the other. I was obviously disappointed with the way my debut went and I felt I had to try and put things right.
“I have worked hard over the last couple of weeks and I am pleased it has managed to come off.
“I had it in the back of my mind they might have called back Alastair Cook for this game and I am pleased they put their trust in me and gave me another chance. Hopefully I can keep this going in the next game and into India.”
As a player renowned for his capacity to strike the ball cleanly at the top of the order, it was perhaps no surprise to hear Hales cite Marcus Trescothick as a player he has looked up to.
Both players were honoured at this week’s NatWest PCA awards; Somerset’s captain scooping the player of the year prize and Hales taking the young player award.
It remains to be seen whether England’s latest opener can emulate the feats of Trescothick, who compiled 26 hundreds during his international career and remains arguably the most feared batsman on the county circuit.
Hales will certainly be giving it his best shot, however, as he seeks to build on yesterday’s encouraging display.
He explained: “When I was in my mid-teens I always looked up to Trescothick even though he was a left-hander.
“I looked up to him, the way he shot the ball through the off side, he had all the shots in the book and he is someone I really looked up to and modelled my game on.
“He is a world-class player. His attacking instincts are something I have tried to model from a young age and if I do get a chance I will try and play like he does.”