‘Hales can be the man to open for Eng­land’

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT - by Jack Miller tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

CHRIS WOAKES may have ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand the frus­tra­tion shown by Alex Hales on miss­ing out on his maiden Test cen­tury at Lord’s.

But the bowler is in no doubt that the Hilling­don bats­man has so­lid­i­fied his claims to open the bat­ting for Eng­land along­side skip­per Alas­tair Cook.

Hales last week came close to top­ping off an im­pres­sive series against Sri Lanka with a hun­dred at the home of cricket ear­lier this month.

But there was to be no en­grav­ing of his name on the Lord’s hon­ours board after he was out for 94.

How­ever, it was still a strong turn­around for the 27-year-old who re­sponded to a tough win­ter series in South Africa, where he scored 136 runs at an av­er­age of 17, by to­talling 292 runs with a much higher av­er­age of 58.4.

The next chal­lenge in Test cricket comes against Pak­istan next month and Woakes be­lieves fall­ing short of a ton will only drive his Eng­land team­mate on.

“He was ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed last week, but he’s the type of char­ac­ter that will move on from that and take the pos­i­tives from it,” he said.

“He would have loved to have got that elu­sive hun­dred and get his name on the hon­ours board, as you don’t get that chance too of­ten, so it’s a shame that he’s done it.

“He def­i­nitely chucked his hel­met and his bat about a bit and had a lit­tle scream to him­self after, but noth­ing out of the or­di­nary. It’s hard to ex­plain the emo­tion you go through.

“But he had a great series. South Africa prob­a­bly didn’t go as well as he’d have liked where he got a few starts but didn’t kick on, so to have a re­ally strong series with the bat is only good for him.

“He’ll take the good things away from the other day and make sure next time he’s in that po­si­tion he won’t get out. That’s cricket un­for­tu­nately – some­times you get a good ball and you’re back in the hutch.

“But 100 per cent he’s shown he can be the man to open for Eng­land. The way he has adapted in tough con­di­tions when the ball has been swing­ing around was im­pres­sive, and as an opener you def­i­nitely have to be able to leave the ball well which is some­thing he has im­proved on.”

Be­fore a ball is bowled against Pak­istan at Lord’s on July 14, Woakes and Hales will be con­cen­trat­ing on the shorter form of the game with both named in the 14-man squad for the up­com­ing Royal Lon­don ODI series against Sri Lanka which be­gan yes­ter­day at Trent Bridge.

And while the squad per­son­nel is changed slightly from the red ball team, Woakes is keen for Eng­land to keep their vis­i­tors on the back foot, hav­ing sealed a 2-0 series win last week­end.

“The white ball guys are com­ing in and while it is largely a very dif­fer­ent squad, a series win like we had def­i­nitely gives us the mo­men­tum head­ing into this one,” added Woakes.

“Hope­fully that has dented the Sri Lankans con­fi­dence a bit and gives us a lit­tle bit of an ad­van­tage, but it is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent series – and al­most a dif­fer­ent sport in some ways.

“They will be look­ing for some sort of re­venge hav­ing not gone so well in the Test series so I’m sure it’s go­ing to be a tough one.

“They’ll be a threat for sure, even in English con­di­tions, and we’ll have to be at our best to get the re­sult.

“The guys in In­dia went fan­tas­ti­cally well, and played fear­less cricket with a smile on their faces which was great to watch – so hope­fully that can rub off on this side and we can pro­duce some big scores again.”

Chris Woakes was speak­ing at a Sri Lankan in­spired cook­ing event hosted by Royal Lon­don, proud spon­sors of One-Day cricket.

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

‘A GREAT SERIES’: Alex Hales, right, would be a good open­ing part­ner for cap­tain Alis­tair Cook

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