County Championship Division 1

Hales turns down red-ball contract

England opener won't play red-ball cricket for the next two county seasons, choosing to focus on limited overs matches

Cricket Network

20 February 2018, 09:48 PM

Opener Alex Hales is the latest Englishman to turn his back on Test cricket, signing a two-year deal with county side Nottinghamshire to play white-ball cricket only.

Less than a week after leg-spinner Adil Rashid turned down a red-ball deal with his county side Yorkshire, his ODI and T20I teammate Hales has gone down a similar path.

Hales, who played 11 Tests in 2015-16, was a crucial part of Notts' white-ball double in county cricket last norther summer.

The 29-year-old says his focus is on helping Notts defend their one-day and T20 titles and also the 2019 World Cup for England.

"For the next 18 months I’m excited to focus entirely on limited overs cricket and want to be part of a Notts Outlaws team that retains the white ball double," Hales said in a statement.

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"It was a fantastic year for the club last year, and I believe we can have more success in the future with the players we have at our disposal. I'm also hoping to be part of a World Cup-winning squad with England.

"The decision to focus on my white-ball game wasn't taken lightly or on the spur of the moment, it's one I've thought long and hard about. It's also one I've discussed at length with the Notts management. I'd like to thank them for their continued support."

Hales, who is currently in New Zealand with England's ODI support, has the backing of Notts' Director of Cricket, Mick Newell.

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"Alex is entitled to make himself available for whatever format he wants to play, and we respect his decision," Newell said.

Last week, Rashid insisted he had not turned his back on Tests forever despite opting against playing first-class cricket with Yorkshire in 2018.

Yorkshire's director of cricket Martyn Moxon labelled Rashid's decision "disappointing", but the spinner said he has the full backing of England coach Trevor Bayliss.

"At this moment in time in my career, I just feel that white-ball cricket is where I am best, enjoying it most and where I feel I can develop and offer a lot more," he said.

Rashid's decision was described as "strange" by former England skipper Michael Vaughan, especially when the identity of England's No.1 Test spinner is unclear.

But David Willey, Rashid's teammate with club and country, said Rashid's decision was a natural step that others could soon pursue.

"It's to be expected. It is too much to play everything and that's cricket now," he said.

"It's probably nearly impossible to play Test cricket when you're playing so much white-ball cricket."

Hales played 11 Tests as an opener between late 2015 and August the following year, scoring five half-centuries but averaging just 27.

Having scored 60 in just his second Test, against South Africa in Cape Town, the right-hander posted scores of 86, 83 and 94 in the space of five innings against Sri Lanka before his returns fell away and he was dropped.