Why Alex Hales is Being Touted as England's Next Big Thing After Pietersen

Updated: 24 August 2014 17:21 IST

Alex Hales is all of 32 T20 Internationals old, but the flamboyant opener comes in to the England ODI fold with a weight of expectations.

Why Alex Hales is Being Touted as England's Next Big Thing After Pietersen
The next Kevin Pietersen? Alex Hales is a bomb waiting to explode.

Alex Hales, a 25-year-old opening batsman, tall and strapping, standing at 6ft 5in, will make his ODI debut for England against India on Monday at Bristol, as one of the most talked about 'rookie' cricketers in recent times. (India in England: Full Coverage)

The hard-hitting opener from Nottinghamshire, is of course not a complete newbie in international cricket. He has already played 32 T20 Internationals in an era, which throbs for the shortest format of the game. And it is in these 32 T20 Internationals, that Hales has made a reputation; a reputation so formidable that observers have gone on to compare him with the mercurial and dangerous Kevin Pietersen. (England Gear up for ODIs With World Cup in Mind)

The stylish right-handed batsman has clobbered 1022 runs in T20Is and blasted seven half-centuries and one hundred. Hales has an alarmingly high strike-rate of 137.73 and that says something for an English batsman. He had sent shockwaves around the international bowling community, soon after his entry in the big league, much like Pietersen had so many years ago.

Hales, much like Pietersen, has a flamboyant appeal, that borders on arrogance, with the bat in hand. Not afraid to take bowlers on early in the innings, Hales can hurt any captain who is not thinking on his feet. Much like Pietersen had for 10 years as England's most-feared batsman.

However, England fans would hope that the similarities stop there, on the field. Pietersen, despite all his explosive talent, was an apparent menace in the dressing-rooms, caring little about captains and coaches; altogether the kind of player any management would rather not have in the team bus. So what if he scored 12,000 international runs?

Hales of course, much unlike Pietersen, is a true-blue Brit. Born in Hillingdon, Middlesex, the young man has been raised to proper British values. The public and the team see him as one of their own and they expect him to do big things with the bat, as big or bigger than Pietersen in the course of a controversial career, that came to a grinding halt when the ECB decided to terminate his contract after the Ashes drubbing in Australia. (Pietersen's Wife Blasts Dominic Cork)

The man himself, in the center of much attention and comparison, has kept a humble air around him.

"To be spoken of in the same breath as Kevin Pietersen is very flattering," Hales told England's Sportsmail.

"I've still got a huge amount of work to do and a lot of runs to score if I want to become as good a batsman as Kevin. He and Marcus Trescothick were two of my heroes growing up. They were very different players but I loved their attacking approach."

Hales has had to wait for his 'big' chance with the ODI team. He overcame a lean period in the Championship a year ago, averaging an embarrassing 13.94 and he was told by the men that mattered in England to stay away from the lures of the Indian Premier League and focus on his England career.

A year later, despite all the heavy 'price' he might have had to pay, Hales has arrived, replacing an out-of-favor Ravi Bopara.

No longer will Hales will be called a T20 specialist, if he delivers in the five ODIs against India, over the new two weeks. There's something uncanny about his maiden ODI; Hales had debuted in T20Is back in 2011 against India, right after England had hammered them 4-0. And here he is, three years later, up against the same side, after almost similar results in the same format.

Hopefully for Hales, he would do better than the first-ball duck he managed at Old Trafford on August 31, 2011.



Topics : England India India in England, 2014 Alex Hales Kevin Pietersen Alastair Cook County Ground, Bristol Cricket
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