England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan has said he is open to an international return for Alex Hales – but that it will take more than good form in the Big Bash to earn a recall.
Hales – who is in fine touch for Sydney Thunder with 568 runs in 16 innings – was dropped ahead of England’s victorious World Cup campaign last year.
The opening batsman failed a second test for recreational drug use and Morgan emphasised only time will enable Hales to regain the trust of his teammates.
Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket ahead of England’s ODI series against South Africa, Morgan was asked whether Hales could make an international return.
He said: “Yes, absolutely. Alex is in fantastic form for Sydney at the moment but his form has never been a question about him coming back into the squad.
“What happened prior to the World Cup last summer was a complete breakdown in trust between Alex and the team.
“The way back in for Alex is to try and rebuild that trust and that takes a considerable amount of time. We are in that time at the moment.”
After news broke of Hales’ failed drugs test last April, Morgan called a meeting of senior players who collectively decided the best option would be for Hales to be deselected.
His comments today represent a thawing of his initial stinging criticism of Hales, when Morgan accused his ex-teammate of showing “a complete disregard” for England’s team culture.
For now, however, Hales remains out of the reckoning as England shore up their preparations for England’s opening ODI against South Africa in Cape Town on Tuesday, their first since beating New Zealand on boundary countback after a tied super over in July’s World Cup final at Lord’s.
Morgan said England – who will be without the rested Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes – will use the ODIs to boost their squad depth ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
He explained: “This series, as a starting point, will see guys come in and make their debuts and give people opportunities to stake a claim for positions that have been cemented for sometime now.
“One of our strengths going into the last World Cup was competition for places and guys in those positions becoming not just very good England players but world-class international players.”