Woakes urges England selectors to give Hales a second chance

‘I’m a believer that people serve their time’: Chris Woakes urges England selectors to give Alex Hales a second chance after he was exiled in disgrace on the eve of last summer’s World Cup because of a recreational drugs ban

  • Chris Woakes believes the time is right for England to recall batsman Alex Hales
  • Hales served a 21-day ban in 2019 after failing ECB’s recreational drug policy
  • Woakes says Hales must have found it ‘difficult’ to watch England win World Cup
  • Captain Eoin Morgan said last month that the ‘door wasn’t closed’ on Hales

Chris Woakes believes Alex Hales should be given a second chance and recalled by England when they next week name two squads for the international summer.

Hales was exiled in disgrace on the eve of the World Cup last summer when it was revealed he was serving a ban for recreational drug use and had, in the words of captain Eoin Morgan, ‘broken the trust’ of the England team.

But Hales insisted in a Sportsmail interview earlier this month that he had learned his lesson and hoped ‘the damage isn’t terminal’ as he targeted an England return ahead of what was scheduled to be a Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in November.

Chris Woakes says Alex Hales (pictured) should be given a second chance to play for England

Now he has received significant support in the form of one of the senior players who banished him last year in Woakes after his own return to individual training this week.

‘I’m a believer that people serve their time, so to speak,’ said Woakes after bowling five overs in a bio-secure environment at Edgbaston to take the first steps back towards what England are increasingly hopeful will be a full international summer.

‘Alex has gone through a tough time being left out of a World Cup and seeing the team lift the trophy must have been difficult for him. I believe if people have gone away for a period of time and worked on their weaknesses they should be given a second chance.

Woakes believes Hales has ‘served his time’ after being banned for recreational drug use

‘I’ve played a lot of cricket with Alex from a young age and in a way I felt sorry for him but I understand the decision from the management, captain and the rest of the team. I don’t know a hundred per cent what will happen but I’d be happy to see Alex back.’

Morgan, the man who lifted the World Cup for England, said the ‘door wasn’t closed’ on Hales last month but it was a cautious endorsement of his chances and Sportsmail understands there are still reservations about his return among key figures.

But, really, the situation England find themselves in provides the perfect opportunity to bring Hales back in what will be an extended white-ball squad of up to 30 players named separately to the Test party that will face West Indies and Pakistan.

Woakes says it must have been ‘difficult’ for Hales to watch England lift Cricket World Cup

Essentially, it could be now or never for the 31-year-old Hales, who has been in prolific form in various short-form tournaments – and Woakes believes he is far from alone in offering an olive branch to a batsman he insists is ‘world-class.’

‘I would imagine the majority of the team feel the same way as I do,’ said Woakes. ‘I don’t know why anyone would feel any differently. We have a culture and environment in the England team where we all try to pull in the right direction. If Alex is willing to do that I’d imagine everyone would be happy to see him back playing for England.’

Woakes will be among the group of bowlers stepping up training next week and plans three sessions with Warwickshire coach Graeme Welch under strict protocols. 

Key figures in the England setup have expressed reservations about Hales’ possible return

‘It will take quite a bit of headspace trying to do the right things and ticking all the boxes,’ he said in a zoom conference call yesterday. ‘The ECB, venues and counties are going above and beyond making it as safe as possible and that will help us as players.’

And Woakes believes bowlers will find a way to find swing even though they will not be allowed to use saliva on the ball when cricket goes back to its new normal, in England’s case when they hope to play the first Test against West Indies on July 8.

‘My first session was literally about turning my arm over and getting things moving,’ he said. ‘Moving forward you will have to remind yourself you can’t use those things to shine the ball. I think from a bowler’s point of view we’ve just got to find a way to shine the ball harder and longer. Luckily enough the ball moves around in England anyway.’ 

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