Nasser Hussain believes England have been “harsh” in their treatment of batsman Alex Hales, who has not played international cricket for over a year.
Hales was removed from England’s squad for last year’s World Cup after being banned for recreational drug use and has not receive a call-up since.
While fast bowler Chris Woakes has said that most of England’s players would be willing to accept a return for Hales, limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan said on Wednesday that “it might take some more time” for an international comeback following “a breakdown in trust” between the Notts opener and the side.
Speaking on The Cricket Show on Sky Sports, former England captain Hussain argued that Hales should be in contention for an England spot.
“He’s done the crime, he’s definitely served the time,” Hussain said. “He’s missed out on a World Cup win and one of of the great months of English cricket, one of the great finals, one of the great days ever at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Is that not enough of a price to pay?
“I feel that Eoin Morgan is pushing the point just a fraction, to be honest.
“I don’t know how he [Hales] wins back that sort of trust from the team. I don’t know how he gets back in the team if they don’t give him another chance. I do feel they’re being a little bit harsh on Alex Hales now.
“He’s been out of the team for a year. He’s missed so much cricket. What I would have said is, ‘You’ve done your time. And you are now available for selection again, but I’m afraid you’re at the back of the queue because of what you did’.
“I’m not playing it down in anyway. The lad took drugs and he’s been hit hard rightly for it. But you bring him back to the fold, [make him] available for selection. But because the likes of [Jonny] Bairstow and [Jason] Roy have been so brilliant; [Jos] Buttler, who opens in T20 cricket; [Dawid] Malan, who has a fabulous T20 cricket [record], [Tom] Banton, who’s come on in the last year – you are at the back of that queue and you now must wait your turn.
“I’m not into this elite mateship and winning back of trust, all that sort of stuff. I’m really not. Pick your best players when they are available. And Alex Hales is a very talented young man.”
Fellow pundit Michael Atherton took a different view to Hussain and said: “[Eoin Morgan] has transformed that team over a four-year period and helped to win England’s first 50-over global tournament. If you’re asking where my sympathies lie between Eoin Morgan on the one hand and Alex Hales, who shot himself spectacularly in the foot ahead of what should have been the biggest six weeks of his professional life, then my sympathies lie with Eoin Morgan.
“Like Nass, I am not particularly into this culture thing that Morgan and [Test captain] Joe Root have driven for the last two or three years, but it’s not my team, it’s their team. They believe it’s important and they build it around the three pillars called unity, courage and respect.
“I think there is bit of baloney in all that, to be honest, but it’s not my team. It’s their team and they think those values are important.”
England fast bowler Mark Wood also joined the show and added: “If there isn’t that trust with the captain and the management, then it’s very hard for the rest of the players to jump on board with that. Once they’re comfortable with it and the trust is back, the players might be open to him coming back into the environment. I’m sure he’ll be treated exactly the same. The only that’ll be difficult is that if a player’s come in and earnt his spot, do you leave him out for Alex to come back in?”