Alex Hales admits he thought his England career was over after three and a half years in the international wilderness.
The Nottinghamshire slugger has not represented his country since he was sacked on the eve of the 2019 World Cup after two failed recreational drug tests.
Hales had to watch from the sidelines as his team-mates won the tournament after a remarkable final against New Zealand at Lord’s.
But the 33-year-old is back after being called up to replace the injured Jonny Bairstow in Matthew Mott’s squad for next month’s tournament in Australia.
“I thought the chance wouldn’t come again,” Hales said in an article published by the Daily Telegraph. “As a cricketer, being in a World Cup squad, missing the night before and then watching your team is your worst nightmare.
“Of course it’s great to see the team lift it up, but at the same time it eats you up inside that you should have been a part of it and you weren’t.”
England Test captain Ben Stokes was close to Hales, but that bond soured after a late-night incident outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017 which resulted in the former being charged with a brawl and eventually acquitted.
Former England one-day captain Eoin Morgan also cited a “complete breach of trust” for Hales’ prolonged absence.
However, Hales’ form – coupled with Morgan’s retirement – has prompted him to work his way back into the selectors’ minds.
“I think I’ve changed,” added Hales, who will be part of England’s tour of Pakistan which begins on Tuesday.
“I’ve definitely matured. I’m comfortably in my 30s now, turning into a veteran.
“I feel like I’ve grown as a person and where I am on and off the field at the moment is probably the best of my career to date. I’m very proud to get this chance again.
“It was disappointing not to be in the team for three years. At the end of the day, it was my fault, wasn’t it? I was the one doing what I did. I just have to put my hands up. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and try to improve as a person and learn from your mistakes.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/alex-hales-england-jonny-bairstow-nottinghamshire-eoin-morgan-b2169205.html I’ve changed – Alex Hales is ready to seize England’s chance he thought was lost