England one-day international skipper Eoin Morgan is backing powerful opener Alex Hales to take his limited-overs form into the Test arena this winter.
Morgan and Hales will join forces at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday as England look to build on their Twenty20 success against Australia in the first of five-Royal London One-day Internationals.
Morgan, who after a run of poor form for Middlesex that saw him average just 10.16 in first-class cricket and 6.66 in the Royal London Cup before returning to form with 74 off 39 balls in the T20 international on Bank Holiday Monday, has witnessed firsthand the devastating batting of Hales at the top of the order.
This season Hales has excelled in all forms of the game for Nottinghamshire and Morgan is convinced the opener has all of the characteristics and ammunition to transfer his one-day skills into the Test arena and replicate the success of Aussie David Warner in red ball cricket.
Adam Lyth has struggled at the top of the order for England during the Ashes, while Moeen Ali has also been spoken about as a potential opening partner for Alastair Cook this winter against Pakistan.
But Morgan is convinced Hales is firmly in the mix to earn a batting spot against Pakistan and become a stalwart for England in all three forms of the game.
“The Royal London Cup has allowed players like Alex Hales to develop as players,” said Morgan. “Alex Hales has been a terrific cricketer over the last couple of years; he has really flourished in all three forms of the game.
“I think the first time most people have seen Alex, would have been in the T20 format; he sort of arrived on the international stage with a huge bang.
“And it’s great to see his development now, we have all seen the form he’s shown in the Royal London One Day Cup, he has contributed to where Nottinghamshire are sitting at the moment so he’s another product of the tournament.
“I certainly think he has the talent to succeed at the highest level and I think again his progression is astounding. If you were to compare him to someone it would probably be David Warner of Australia.
“David started as a T20 cricketer, Alex Hales has had a similar pathway and at the moment I think there is that reserve batting spot that will be up for grabs in the winter for England.
“And depending on what route the selectors and the captain and the coach want to go down, I think certainly Alex should be talked about in terms of Test cricket.”
After a disastrous 50-over World Cup, England reinvented their game during the recent Royal London One Day Cup against New Zealand; not only winning the series 3-2 but also delivering a newfound brand of attacking cricket.
In some quarters, pundits believe the feel good factor created by Morgan and his team against the Kiwis had played a big role in England taking momentum and confidence into the successful Ashes Test series against Australia.
A number of new faces put their hands up for selection during that series as England decided to rest the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ian Bell in one day cricket against New Zealand.
In Monday’s T20 victory against the Aussies, all-rounders Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes stole the show and Morgan is convinced his team is fast developing into a feared and tough opponent in the one day game.
“As I said before, it’s all about us as a side, we have started to turn things around and play an aggressive brand of cricket,” added Morgan.
“I think the challenge for us is going to be maintaining that. I think one way of maintaining it and the only way I want to maintain it, is to keep pushing ourselves to want to improve and to put the opposition under pressure at all times and try and build something.
“When you try to improve something and you already have a good thing, I think holding onto it is the worst thing that you can do.
“The aim is certainly to test their boundaries this series, is going to be a challenge for us but one we’re relishing.
“I think the recent Ashes Test series was exceptional, both as a spectator and a player.
“I appreciated everything the English test team was about, they embodied passion, character and that culminated into a fantastic series win. It makes me very proud to put the England shirt back on next week and we now want to take that on.”
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