Alex Hales has become the second England player in a week to opt out of red-ball cricket having signed a white-ball only contract extension with Nottinghamshire.
The 27-year-old opener, who is a regular in England’s one-day and T20 teams, follows Adil Rashid in turning his back on first-class cricket.
Hales, like Rashid, has said his decision is not necessarily permanent, but it covers the next 18 months until the end of the 2019 season – during which England will host the 50-over World Cup.
— Alex Hales (@AlexHales1) February 20, 2018
Hales said: “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. 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.”
He was also keen to stress it was a choice he had come to over a long period of time.
“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.”
Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell said: “We are looking forward to Alex being involved again with us for the next two years as he was integral to our success in 50 and 20-over cricket last summer.”
“Alex is entitled to make himself available for whatever format he wants to play, and we respect his decision. He’s an outstanding white-ball player and we look forward to him helping us win more trophies in that format of the game.”
Hales averaged 27.28 in 11 Tests played in 2015 and 2016 and seemed keen to succeed in all formats but with the selectors now having moved on to other candidates he appears now to have turned his attention away from the longest form.
With two high-profile England players in quick succession making the decision to concentrate solely on white-ball cricket, the feeling has grown that cricket’s current schedule is unsustainable and that the game is essentially developing two separate sports. With speculation rife that more of England’s one-day players might make a similar decision, ODI and T20 skipper Eoin Morgan – who didn’t earn an IPL contract this year – confirmed he would be seeking selection for Middlesex in the County Championship in 2018.
“Hopefully, if I’m selected,” he said when asked by Sky Sports. “I tried to play some last year and the year before. The reason I’ve always worked trying to play red-ball cricket is my technique isn’t very good and I always struggle my first 20 balls and I’m a slow starter.
“Striving to play red-ball cricket always made me work on my technique a little bit more. My technique’s normally okay [against the red ball] and I tend to hit it further and play it later.
“That’s why I’ve been hesitant to make a decision [like Rashid’s]. It’s not been having aspiration to play Test cricket – I don’t.”
There’s no guarantee that Morgan would get in Middlesex’s four-day team, and if offered the opportunity to join the IPL as a late replacement he would likely take it.
Jos Buttler, who has previously indicated his keenness to be considered for Test selection, is yet to comment on the issue.