England national selector Ed Smith, speaking on Sky Sports Cricket, lent his backing to England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan over the continued exclusion of Alex Hales from England’s ODI and T20I squads.
Hales was a notable absentee from England’s 24-strong training group for the upcoming three-match ODI series against Ireland, with the opener having not played for England since their tour of the Caribbean at the start of 2019. His continued exclusion is down his initial ban for breaking the ECB’s recreational drugs policy in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup, with Morgan stressing that the trust between Hales and the England dressing room needs to be “built back up”.
“It’s 11 months ago that the incident happened with Alex,” Morgan said back in May, “so it’s actually not that long ago that it happened, and what happened was actually quite considerably harmful to the environment, which obviously led to the breakdown in trust between Alex and our players, so to say, how long that will take to regain, we don’t know, but certainly the door is still open for that trust to be built back up.”
The decision has come under criticism from former England captain Michael Vaughan among others. “I think this is harsh. He made big, big mistakes, and he paid for it – he wasn’t part of the World Cup, he wasn’t a part of that World Cup-winning side,” the former England captain said on the Tuffers and Vaughan Cricket Show. “I always think players deserve a second chance. He’s gone and played a few leagues, he’s played OK.”
Smith has now emphasised that Morgan has the backing of the team management, but implied that it’s a decision driven by the England captain.
“I have nothing to add to what Eoin Morgan has said about Alex,” he said. “We know how good a player is, we know where he stands. That’s the situation, I have nothing to add to it. Obviously we know he’s a very good player, we know what happened, Eoin’s been very clear about his comments, we support that, and that’s the situation we’re in today.”