Alex Hales put his name on England’s T20 World Cup roster when he starred in their tense eight-round win over Australia in Perth.
After Jos Buttler returned to the side from a calf injury, Hales was preferred to Phil Salt as the England white-ball captain’s opening partner for the first of three T20s against his Ashes rival.
Hales struggled for fluidity early on but gradually found his footing, underpinning England’s 208 for six with an 84-shot from 51 and sharing a blistering 132-run streak in 11.2 overs with Buttler.
Their efforts contributed much to the Tourists’ success as Australia slipped from 158-3 to 200-9, with David Warner’s 73-of-44 ball failure at Optus Stadium.
And Buttler confirmed Hales, who recently returned to the group after more than three years in the international wilderness after a failed recreational drug test, will feature again when England return to those venues in two weeks for the World Cup opener against Afghanistan.
“Things are changing fast in the sport but he’s got the first try at the moment,” said Buttler, who revealed Hales was selected because of his background in Australia’s Big Bash League.
“It was a really difficult decision, we spent a lot of time discussing and thinking about it and it was really just Alex’s record in Australia that pushed him forward.
“He has settled in very well and played fantastic here. He’s a really destructive player, he accesses all areas of the floor and he’s intimidating to bowl so it was great to watch on the other end.
Buttler, who shone with 68 from 32 balls himself, declined to appeal over an apparent on-field handicap as an entertaining, high-scoring contest neared its conclusion.
Confusion reigned as Matthew Wade emerged with the tip of his helmet before appearing to fend off Mark Wood as he ran towards an attempt at a return, but England’s victory took the sting out of any controversy.
“I was just looking at the ball,” Buttler said. “It’s quite difficult, I don’t know what to really address, I could have maybe asked some of the other guys if they had a better view.
“I didn’t really see what happened. We’ve only just arrived in Australia so I thought just get on with the game.”
Marcus Stoinis suggested the blow to the head may have temporarily confused Wade.
“It’s chaos when you get hit in the head and you’re running around not knowing where the ball is – it’s chaos,” he said.
Warner anchored Australia’s pursuit while Stoinis’ 15-ball cameo made it 35 and seemed to tip the balance in favor of the home side, but Wood won both batters to finish with three for 34.
Australia – without Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa, Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith – needed 16 from the last over but Wade was caught midway through Sam Curran, who also bowled Nathan Ellis to help England narrowly down come across the line.
Australia are likely to strengthen their XI in next week’s double-header in Canberra, but Buttler welcomes the challenge.
“It was a great game of cricket, I really enjoyed it,” added Buttler. “Australia seemed to have it under control and we had to find ways to take wickets but we did that and showed great character.
“We can really get a lot of confidence from that. Every time you play Australia it’s challenging games.
“They left a few guys behind which is a pretty wise decision with their schedule and the World Cup just around the corner. That was a great cricket match and I’m expecting two more.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/alex-hales-england-jos-buttler-australia-perth-b2198919.html Alex Hales gets the “first crack” in the World Cup opening spot with a winning goal