As the franchise leagues continue to grow in stature and size, so do the player preferences to select franchise cricket over national duties.
Amid this glaring truth comes the latest shocker, if one might put it that way.
The latest player who has pulled the plug on his International cricket career is England’s opener Alex Hales.
To some, he was a fine lad that went berserk against some of the premium white ball bowlers; to many others, he is rightly regarded as being among the most dangerous hitters in the modern times.
Regardless, Alex Hales calling time on his career shall, at least, for a while, remain a polarising subject of debate.
You wouldn’t possibly disagree, would you, that at 34, Alex Hales still had some more years, which he could have dedicated to international cricket.
Yet, he decided to switch over to a format that today has globe trotting ambition.
Alex Hales came into limelight in 2005, as 16 years old he plundered 52 runs in a T20 tournament, in an over involved with number of no balls.
Within 5 years’s time, he was playing limited overs cricket for England, a massive achievement of his career.
It ought to be recollected that England, between 1992- 2015, was an average limited overs team and had some of the most atrocious performances to their name.(the only exception was T20 International World Cup 2010).
It took another humiliating disaster in the 2015 World Cup in Australia for the cricket administrators to appoint Eoin Morgan as the leader of the limited over format.
The Ireland born newly appointed captain Morgan revived the ODI and T20 team just like Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher did it for the Test team post 1999.
During this time, a number of specialists of the format were selected and among them were Jason Roy and Alex Hales, the latter who didn’t flinch a great deal before tearing apart some of the big names in the game.
The duo was given freedom to play according to their natural ability.
It was the start of the era when England dominated the White ball Cricket winning both World Cup 2019 and T20 World Cup in 2022.
That Hales couldn’t play any part in 2019 win as he was out of the squad due to a failed drug test, ultimately ended his ODI career as Jason Roy and Johnny Bairstow formed a dynamic opening pair.
Though that didn’t mean that Alex Hales was on the sidelines or had in any way put himself on the backburner.
Alex Hales returned on time in 2022 with a freak injury to Johnny Bairstow, on tour to Pakistan and later, the T20 World Cup in Australia.
The latter was the moment which his career had been waiting for; with useful contributions throughout the tour and then the World Cup, he helped England lift the world cup. Hales expressed that these were best days of his career.
Hales is only 34 and could have played few more years considering that he might have been on the plane for next year’s T20 World Cup in West Indies and United States.
He, however, had been finding it quite difficult to balance between the International Duty and Franchise Commitments.
Earlier this year, he withdrew from the tour of Bangladesh due to Pakistan Super League (PSL) and now with CPL commitment looming up it was difficult for him to play against New Zealand late in August.
With already being part of the World Cup winning team last year, Hales must have felt that he has achieved the pinnacle in International Cricket for England and it was time for him to earn as much as possible in next 3-4 years with his career entering in final phase.
None can fault Hales for making this decision as the conflict between the International Cricket and Franchise cricket continues to increase ( it has been there since the IPL was launched in 2008 followed by many more leagues).
There will be more such retirements in the future as well as the players prefer to play the Franchise leagues which have more
money and are much shorter in the duration.
Alex Hales finished with an impressive record in ODI Cricket, making 2419 runs in 70 ODIs at an average of 37.79, he also had a decent record in T20 Internationals with 2074 runs in 75 games at 30.95.
Had he got more support of the management, like Zak Crawley is getting at the moment, he might have been more successful in Tests as well.
All told, it’s safe to say that we won’t always get to be treated by the sight of a batter nearly as tall as a Gayle or Pollard who not just accelerated scoring at nearly any stage but derived immense pleasure by sending the bowlers into ruptures.
– image taken from Sky Sports