Hales eyes World Cup role
4:48pm Thursday 24th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Nottinghamshire batsman Alex Hales hopes his form this season in the LV= County Championship can help secure him a place in the England squad for the forthcoming ICC World Cup.
Hales, who has already made a positive impression at Twenty20 level for his country but is yet to be capped in any other format, is enjoying four-day cricket for his county again after having what he describes as a "shocker" in 2013.
The 25-year-old is optimistic those recent efforts can work in his favour in terms of his 50-over England prospects, with the World Cup, which takes place in Australia and New Zealand during February and March next year, having been a firm target of his since the season began.
And he will also soon be showcasing his skills domestically in that exact format as the new 50-over Royal London One-Day Cup commences this weekend.
Nottinghamshire - who last year won the competition's 40-over predecessor, the Yorkshire Bank 40 - get their campaign under way at Sussex on Sunday, and ahead of the match Hales told Press Association Sport: "I'm looking forward to it, particularly as defending champions.
"I think it is a good idea heading back to 50 overs before the World Cup.
"My aim at the start of the season was to push for that 50-over World Cup squad.
"I think the selectors look closely at your four-day form too, so hopefully I've shown that I'm not just a T20 slogger and that I can go about compiling an innings in the right way.
"I'm really happy with my form in red-ball cricket, particularly after how last season went - I had a shocker last year.
"I wanted to put that right and it has gone well so far."
England on Thursday announced their Lions squad for a triangular one-day international series against New Zealand A and Sri Lanka A next month and Hales - along with Nottinghamshire team-mates James Taylor, who is named as captain, and Harry Gurney - has been included.
"It is a very strong squad they have picked and pretty much all the guys will have one eye on that World Cup squad for the winter," Hales said.
"Everyone will be vying for a place and keen to impress."
Former senior national head coach Andy Flower will be in charge of the Lions for the series, and Hales added: "I think it's brilliant - he is obviously an incredibly experienced cricketer and coach and I think it will be great for us young guys to have him around.
"I've had a bit of experience with him before with the T20 stuff and found him fantastic to work with."
Hales admits that, for now, he is only thinking of the England Test squad as something he might become part of "down the line".
Meanwhile, his England T20 colleague Jos Buttler will make that step up from limited overs cricket, having been named as the replacement to injured wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior for the third Test against India.
With t he Lancashire gloveman set to make his Test debut on Sunday, Hales has backed Buttler to develop into a "natural" at that level.
"I'm really excited for him," Hales said.
"He works incredibly hard at his game and I think he is an outstandingly talented cricketer. Even if it takes him a few games to get used to Test level, I think he will become a natural at it eventually."
England are 1-0 down in the series against tourists India and have been facing some severe criticism, particularly captain Alastair Cook.
Hales feels there have been encouraging signs from the team, though, and is confident Cook will come through the current turbulence and return to form.
"You look around and there are some really talented young guys who have come in and done really well - the likes of Sam Robson, Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali," Hales said.
"They have shown the future and that what is in county cricket is exciting.
"And if you look before the last few Tests, Cook's record was outstanding.
"He has won a Test series in India. I think if people give him a bit of time, he will come good again."