It’s not often you hear a batsman muse that he isn’t guaranteed a place in his side after making almost 150 as part of a record-setting innings. So it speaks volumes about the strength of England’s current batting options that Alex Hales did so after his magnificent century in the third ODI against Australia.
Hales blistering 147 off 92 balls was the highest score in England’s batting frenzy and yet, once Ben Stokes returns from injury, he still expects to be in a three-way battle with Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy for two positions in the top order.
“To get a score like that at my home ground and get the record score is one of the days I’ll never forget in my life,” Hales said. “I don’t think my situation has changed much since yesterday [the day before the game] in terms of those two guys being ahead of me.
“You’ve got Jonny who’s got four hundreds in five games and Jason, when in form, is one of the best players in the world. The situation stays the same for me. I need to keep knocking on the door and scoring as many runs as I can. Today was one step towards that.
“It’s a nice problem for the selectors and the coaches to have: a squad as strong as we are at the moment, with the depth we’ve got, and guys not even in the 15 who are knocking on the door. It’s healthy competition and keeps everybody striving to improve.
“To put together such an impressive team performance against a tough strong nation. It’s probably our best ever team performance in terms of what we did with the bat and the way we fielded and particularly the way the spinners bowled. It was as good as I’ve ever played in. A special day.”
If Stokes is fully fit by the start of the India one-day series it gives Hales two more ODIs against Australia, then four T20Is to further press his claims.
“I think that’s the situation I’m in,” said Hales. “It’s almost like what Jonny was in for a couple of years. Every time he got a chance, he scored a lot of runs.
“Every opportunity I get is going to be gold dust moving forward. [It] was a great day for me but, again, it’s something I’m just building over the next couple of games.”
The stunning victory at Trent Bridge was the second time Hales has racked up a major score in a record ODI innings for England at his home ground; he made 171 off 122 balls when England belted 444 for 3 to defeat Pakistan in 2016. At times, particularly during Hales’ partnerships with Bairstow and Eoin Morgan, it seemed possible that England could reach 500 runs. It’s a milestone Hales thinks this England can crack in the near future.
“I think so,” said Hales. “The way the game is going now, the 50-over game has changed so much, even since the last World Cup. The standard has gone through the roof. There were murmurs of it when Morgan came out to bat between me and him today.
“They bowled quite well at the death so it wasn’t to be today. It was as good a chance as we have. But who knows – the way the game has progressed in the last few years, there’s no reason why it can’t happen.
“[There was] just a little tongue-in-cheek ‘today’s the day we’re going to do it – this is our chance’. When we got past the 444 we got last time, we had a little smirk to each other and said let’s push to that 500, it’s a great chance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.”