Ashley Giles has begun plotting a possible route for Alex Hales to return to the England setup nearly two years on from his controversial World Cup omission after admitting the door cannot stay closed on the opener forever.
Giles, the director of England cricket, held what have been described as “positive” talks with Hales’ agent on Thursday 24 hours after Eoin Morgan, the white-ball captain, played down his chances of making the squad for this year’s T20 World Cup in India.
Any decision here will probably still come down to Morgan, who accused Hales of a “complete disregard” for the team’s culture when, on the eve of the 50-over World Cup in 2019, he was hit with a 21-day ban for failing a second recreational drugs test.
But while the pair have not spoken since bar a brief exchange of text messages 12 months ago Giles appears keen to give Morgan the option with the plan to invite Hales to England training when the white-ball team play at home this summer.
“There has to be a way back in,” Giles told Sky’s Cricket Show, during an interview recorded shortly before his meeting with the 366 Group that represents Hales. “During this [recent] period, bringing someone back in to reintegrate them has been difficult because we’re living bubble life. But I certainly hope there are opportunities during this year to do that.
“He’s a high-class player. We’re lucky that we’re blessed with a lot of high-class players in our T20 lineup particularly. But the door can’t be closed forever. As we all know, trust is a really important thing when you play in teams and that has to be won back.” Since losing his World Cup berth and being stripped of his central contract at the end of the 2019 season, Hales has gone on to considerable success as a specialist Twenty20 batsman in the T20 Blast, the Pakistan Super League and Australia’s Big Bash League.
The 32-year-old last month described himself as “desperate” to return to international cricket and claimed to have made lifestyle changes after the “sickening” experience of watching England lift the 50-over World Cup in his absence.