Alex Hales has been given a clear warning about his future as he prepares to make his return to action for Nottinghamshire, following the 21-day drugs ban that led to his axing from the England World Cup squad, when the county takes on Durham in Grantham on Friday.
Fitness permitting, Hales – who was said to be “devastated” after being stood down from England’s 15-man preliminary squad for the World Cup – will begin his comeback in the Royal London Cup at the same time that his former team-mates begin their one-off ODI against Ireland in Dublin.
He will do so with an unequivocal warning from his county ringing in his ears, after the club said in a statement that his actions, which include two failed tests for recreational drugs as well as his role in the fracas outside a Bristol nightclub in September 20117, “have, at times, fallen way short of the behaviours the club expects from any of its staff”.
Hales, who is on a white-ball-only contract at Nottinghamshire after making himself unavailable for four-day cricket last season, has missed the entirety of the club’s Royal London campaign to date. He is out of contract at the club at the end of the season, making the remaining two group matches, as well as the knock-out phases for which the club is well placed to progress, especially crucial to the rebuilding of his career.
“The recent events in relation to Alex Hales have been difficult for everyone involved with Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club,” said the club on its website. “Alex’s off-field actions have, at times, fallen way short of the behaviours the club expects from any of its staff.
“Following his withdrawal from all England squads this week, we have met with Alex to express our concerns and to re-iterate that such actions cannot continue.
“The meeting was open, honest and constructive and a way forward was agreed between both parties. Alex has expressed a great deal of regret and contrition for his actions and he has ultimately paid a heavy price.”
Hales attended an England squad get-together in Cardiff over the weekend, but was removed from the squad on Monday morning, reportedly with the blessing of the team hierarchy, who believe his behavioural issues, and his lack of repentance, are an unwelcome distraction on the eve of the team’s biggest challenge.
And, having met with Nottinghamshire’s management to assess his readiness for a comeback, Hales would appear now to have recognised that the situation he is in is one of his own making, having initially accused the ECB of reneging on a commitment to back him in spite of his ban.
“He accepts that the position he finds himself in is of his own making,” said the club. “He knows he has a long road back to redeem himself in the eyes of many people, but that now has to be his aim.
After much deliberation, we believe it’s in the best interests of all concerned for him to get back to playing cricket for Nottinghamshire as quickly as possible.
“With his suspension now served, he is available for selection for all white-ball cricket for the remainder of the 2019 season, starting with the fixture against Durham on Friday.
“As Alex’s County Club, we will work with him, the PCA and the ECB to look after his welfare and to ensure he receives the support and guidance he needs to work through this experience and to prevent any re-occurrences.”