Alex Hales on Monday launched a stinging attack on his England bosses for abruptly ditching him from their World Cup plans and accused the ECB of betrayal.
Hales insists he was assured a second failed drugs test would not stop him playing for England against Ireland and Pakistan this week and next and then beyond in the World Cup.
But once details emerged on Friday of the true reason why the 30-year-old had been absent from Notts matches for ‘personal reasons’ the ECB, Hales alleges, dramatically changed tact.
Alex Hales launched a stinging attack on England bosses after being axed from the World Cup
Hales insists he was assured a second failed drugs test would not stop him playing for England
On Monday Ashley Giles, England’s managing director, ended Hales’s World Cup dream when he belatedly took a hard line on those two failed drugs tests and dropped a player who was already serving a suspended sentence for his part in the brawl of Bristol.
And that sparked a furious response from Hales, who may have ended his remote chances of ever playing for England again with the counter-accusations towards Giles and ECB bosses.
His statement, meanwhile, raises questions as to who knew what about the nature of Hales’s absence and when, with Sportsmail understanding that the selectors did not know he had failed a second test for recreational drugs when they named him in their provisional World Cup squad.
On Monday Ashley Giles, England’s managing director, ended Hales’s World Cup dream
‘We are hugely disappointed at the treatment of our client, Alex Hales, by the ECB following his ejection from England’s provisional World Cup squad,’ said a statement from Hales management company the 366 group.
‘Nobody is seeking to excuse Alex’s behaviour and he absolutely recognises and acknowledges that he’s made a huge mistake. But as part of the ongoing process both he and his representatives have been involved in many conversations with senior members of the ECB over the past few weeks where Alex has apologised profusely for his actions.
‘The ECB insisted on Alex taking certain rehabilitation measures following his suspension in line with both ECB and PCA guidelines. However at every stage Alex fulfilled his obligations and both he and his representatives were given assurances that any suspension could not affect his selection for the World Cup.
‘It is unfortunate that a confidential matter made it to the public arena but, even before the publication of the story, Alex had again spoken to key members of the England organisation to express his regret and contrition. At that time, he again took away the message his World Cup place would be judged on playing merit.
‘The fact all those assurances seem to have been rendered meaningless has understandably left Alex devastated. He will take time to reflect on both his actions and the subsequent decisions but will receive the support from his team he deserves.
‘Until the matter became public, the ECB had fully observed their own process and guidelines and given Alex the support and guidance laid out in those regulations.
‘It is now disappointing to learn these guidelines seem to have been disregarded while, in this instance, player welfare would also appear to be low on their list of priorities.
‘While Alex is hurt, the ECB’s decision does not dilute his commitment to the game and he will continue to give everything to Nottinghamshire’s cause. He would also like to wish England team-mates well for the World Cup.’
Coach Trevor Bayliss warned Hales he was in the last chance saloon earlier this year
The statement capped a dramatic day after Giles, who clearly knew that Hales had been serving a three-week automatic suspension for the second failed test along with ECB chief executive Tom Harrison at least two weeks before it became public, thought ‘long and hard’ about the best action to take against a serial offender who had tested management patience to the limit.
Coach Trevor Bayliss, indeed, had warned Hales he was in the last chance saloon during the Caribbean tour earlier this year when he was the target of a newspaper expose for allegedly cheating on his long-term girlfriend.
But eventually former England left-arm spinner Giles, known to be a disciplinarian, took the only action open to England if they are to preserve the integrity of the game at the start of an unprecedented summer after its image had taken several knocks through poor player behaviour.
‘We have worked hard to create the right environment around England and need to consider what is in the best interests of the team,’ said Giles after telling Hales in Cardiff he would miss the trip to Dublin for Friday’s international against Ireland, the series against Pakistan that follows and, of course, the World Cup.
‘We have to ensure the team are free from any distractions and are able to focus on being successful on the pitch.
‘I want to make it clear this is not the end of Alex’s career as an England player. The ECB and the PCA will continue to aid Alex and work alongside Notts to give him the support he needs and help him fulfil his potential as a professional cricketer.’
Hampshire’s James Vince is likely to be named as Hales’s replacement in the World Cup party
The immediate beneficiary of Hales’s stupidity looks certain to be James Vince, who is set to be promoted to the final World Cup squad when it is named on May 22 after already being called up for the trip to Ireland and the Twenty20 match against Pakistan in Cardiff on Sunday.
Vince, who made 190 for Hampshire against Gloucestershire in the Royal London Cup only last week, was also added to the squad for England’s five 50-over matches against Pakistan on Monday while Jason Roy dropped out to rest from hamstring and back injuries.
The move also increases the chances of Joe Denly retaining his World Cup squad place as another batting option meaning a fast bowler, probably Tom Curran or Liam Plunkett, will have to miss out if England remain determined to pick Jofra Archer for the world tournament.
England on Monday also added Ben Duckett, another batsman who has experienced disciplinary problems, and Dawid Malan to their squad to travel to Dublin and face Pakistan in the Twenty20 match on Sunday while Mark Wood has also withdrawn as England nurse him towards the World Cup.
WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE… LATE WORLD CUP MISHAPS
1999 – England, beset by internal contract wrangles, decide on the eve of their last home World Cup to drop long-term opener Nick Knight and replace him with Nasser Hussain, who has never opened the batting in any form of cricket. England don’t even reach the second stage.
2003 – England come under pressure from the ECB to fulfil a World Cup match in Zimbabwe despite worldwide calls to pull out in protest at Robert Mugabe’s regime. Eventually they are persuaded to miss the match over ‘security concerns’ and are eliminated early.
2007 – Another World Cup turns into a farce as all-rounder Andrew Flintoff decides to go for a drunken early-hours ride on a pedalo off the coast of St Lucia.
2015 – England drop Alastair Cook as captain ahead of another ill-fated tournament in Australia and New Zealand, where they are found to be way off the pace of the other turbo-charged nations.