Alex Hales is not ‘turning his back’ on Test or first-class cricket

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Alex Hales (Channel 5)

Not least because he isn’t currently a Test cricketer. But that’s not really our point.

Imagine you have three important things to do today, but you’re kind of pressed for time. If you’re anything like us, you’ll favour the ingenious solution of doing a really half-arsed job on all three. Other people are different. Some might decide to do two things reasonably well and totally sack off the third.

This is Alex Hales’ view. He could spend half the summer driving around the UK to play four-day matches in front of very few people, but it would mean less time to practise one-day batting and also less rest. It is, in short, not his top priority.

Playing in the County Championship might even be a distraction. The more watchful approach and different footwork employed in first-class cricket might actually hamper his short format game.

So why bother playing it? Because he might get another shot at Test cricket? You’re pitting might-play-Test-cricket against almost-certainly-will-play-World-Cup there.

Alex Hales is not turning his back on first-class cricket because it is not about first-class cricket. First-class cricket is collateral damage. Alex Hales is actively focusing on the shorter formats. He is being professional.

More on this topic in our post about Adil Rashid’s identical decision last week.


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  1. I continue to get the feeling that one format is going to die. I really hope it’s the awkward mish-mash rather than the one with very few people watching.

    1. I have a long-standing bet with someone who I actually haven’t spoken to in more than 5 years over whether the first format to go will be 50 overs (my view) or Test (his). I still feel pretty confident about that, but I guess it’s easy to be confident when there’s not much chance of him even remembering the bet at this stage.

      It was striking watching the T20 on Sunday how the level of overlap between some nations’ Test and T20 teams varies so much. Without thinking about it much, I’d guess England and South Africa are on the low end of the scale and New Zealand are towards the top (although I could be way off there)?

      1. It would make sense that England decide to embrace and prioritize over everything else 50 over cricket just as it dies.

  2. I’m thinking about putting together a press release announcing my intention to only work three days a week.

    Seriously though, who can blame them. One-day cricket has more sixes than first-class cricket. And more sixes equals better cricket.

  3. Strange how if you look at the best England Test sides of recent years (2005 & 2011), so many of them used ODI cricket as the gateway to the Test team. Treescothick, Strauss, KP, Anderson, Swann, Bresnan, Collingwood all got in to one extent or another from ODI performances, and you could argue that Prior, Broad and Finn kept Test places for periods because they were doing alright in the ODIs at the time. Now, doing well in ODIs means you are less likely to play Test cricket – only Moeen has really transitioned from ODI to Test, while Root, Stokes, Bairstow and (arguably) Woakes cracked Tests before they did ODIs.

    Might partly explain why the Test team is finding it so hard to plug the gaps. Players might now even start to go the other way – Malan for example has made a decent fist of Test cricket (I know that was off the back of a T20 performance, but still), and now might well end replacing Billings as the batsman that gets to watch everyone else play in an ODI series

    1. ODIs (and T20s for that matter) as the gateway to the Test team is still pretty much the system in quite a few countries I think. The difference in England (and Australia) seems a bit starker than in some of the others.

      Its been a theme in KCs recents posts, but its still puzzling. I can understand, for instance, why Buttler might find it difficult to crack the test team since Bairstow is class, but its harder to understand why Morgan or Roy or Hales aren’t candidates for a spot in the test team, even if their limited overs commitments prevent them from playing first class cricket.

      It seems a bit like two rival enterprises at the moment, competing for the same resources, when it really should be two (or three) wings of the same enterprise.

      1. I wouldn’t mind Morgan as captain, even if he hasn’t played a FC game in almost 3 years.

        And I’d have liked Hales to try to make it as a Test opener. Maybe Roy will get a chance? ( I doubt it, though)

        But it increasingly feels as if test cricket is done (and if it is, so is my interest in the sport). It’s apparent that the ECB doesn’t care about it any more, and if they don’t, who does? I wonder if this is why they decided to finally let Ireland join the club?

      2. First-class cricket really does seem to have become an entry requirement for Test cricket in England.

        Don’t think this view was quite so fiercely held a few years ago, but the notion that red and white ball cricket are entirely different really seems to have caught hold following the rise of T20.

        The truth is that if you look at other nations, they field just as many Test cricketers as T20 specialists in their 50-over sides. No reason why players couldn’t travel in the opposite direction too.

        Perhaps these players’ first-class experience has dipped below some threshold such that they really do lack meaningful experience now.

      3. Do other nations even play much First-class cricket?

        Steve Smith has only played 53 FC games on top of his Tests.
        Virat Kohli, only 32.
        David Warner, 28.
        Kane Williamson has played 63. I assume most of those are for Yorkshire and Gloucs though.

        Alex Hales has played 96, and Adil Rashid 156.

  4. Hmm, seems like a lot of the recent posts about Test cricket dying have come from English fans and players. Are we sure this isn’t just because England played like shit in the Ashes, and killed it in the ODIs? So suddenly the English public love ODI cricket?

    1. This is a fair point. I do wonder how much of a toss the likes of Australian, Sri Lankan and South African fans give about ODI cricket. 4 years ago I’d have happily seen it go, now that it’s the only format England are any good at I suddenly care a bit more.

    2. Think there’s a bit of chicken-and-egg there. England play less FC, England do badly at Tests, English public go off Tests.

      I still don’t care that much about ODIs.

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