Hales dreaming of Test breakthrough
6:48am Saturday 30th August 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Alex Hales is just beginning his upgrade from Twenty20 to one-day international batsman, but already has Test cricket on his mind too.
Hales made his ODI debut in England's 133-run trouncing at the hands of India in Cardiff, where he top-scored with 40, and on Saturday has his second chance to open alongside under-fire captain Alastair Cook.
His pressing objective then is to carry his brilliant Nottinghamshire and England Lions form into 50-over internationals, and help Cook prove his critics wrong by establishing an effective partnership for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.
It has not escaped his notice, however, that there could yet be a vacancy at the top of the order to partner Cook in Tests too when England resume in that format next April.
Should that prove the case, he will most certainly be interested.
"It's definitely in the back of my head," said the 6ft 5in opener, who has put behind him a miserable 2013 county championship season in which he averaged a paltry 13.94.
"It always has been, even after the torrid time I had last year.
"It's always been my dream to play Test cricket, and that's going to come with a lot more hard work than I've put in already - and it's going to start this winter, by showing I can score hundreds on the big stage.
"I'm ready to work hard and earn that spot."
Hales is encouraged by the modern trend of ultra-attacking opening batsmen making a success of Test cricket.
"There are people around the world who have shown it ... David Warner, Chris Gayle, Virender Sehwag," he added.
"I think there is space for it. But it's going to come with a lot of hard technical work, and that's up to me."
Even so, he is not about to pin all his hopes on Test cricket - and is considering a lucrative alternative should he fail to make the cut for the Caribbean next spring.
Hales was saddled with an unattractive 400,000 US dollar base price tag for this year's Indian Premier League auction, and generated no interest.
He said: "I'm not sure what the price arrangement is, but I do definitely still hope to enter the auction next year.
"I think the plan at the moment is to make that base price lower. But I haven't had any initial discussions."
In the meantime, he is thankful to have been given the chance to add ODIs to his portfolio - having played 32 Twenty20 internationals since his debut against India three years ago.
He has at times been frustrated at being typecast, but acknowledges the solution was always his.
Hales said: "I've always felt at home in Twenty20 (international) cricket, the pressure that comes with playing in front of the big screen and playing for your country - so I have always felt ready to make the step up to 50 overs.
"But the selectors have said 'you've got to show more consistency across all three formats'.
"That's something I've had to go away and work on, and I hope I've shown that."