Alex Hales insists he will still support England at the upcoming World Cup despite his shock exile from international cricket.
The Nottinghamshire batsman was on course to feature for World Cup hosts England until a report in the Guardian newspaper last month revealed he was serving a 21-day ban following a second positive test for recreational drug use.
The England and Wales Cricket Board responded to the report by announcing that Hales, a member of the provisional World Cup squad, had been withdrawn from international duty.
Hales, 30, is now turning his attention instead to a stint with the Barbados Tridents in the seventh season of the Caribbean Premier League.
The hard-hitting batsman, speaking after being selected as the first pick in the draft for the Twenty20 franchise competition staged in London on Wednesday, said he still wanted England to win the World Cup in his absence.
“I’m still a fan and wish all the boys all the best. What we have done over the last few years has been unbelievable,” Hales said in an interview broadcast by Sky Sports.
“I will be (keeping an eye on the World Cup). The guys deserve to win it and I’ll be sat there watching and cheering.”
As for his feelings about his World Cup exile, confirmed when Hales was left out of England’s 15-man tournament squad announced Tuesday, he simply added: “I’m not here to talk about that.”
The CPL draft saw Hales selected ahead of West Indies captain Jason Holder and star batsman Chris Gayle, with the competition starting on September 4.
“I just want to get back playing what I love most and that’s cricket,” Hales, now a white-ball specialist, added.
“This is such a good opportunity to go and play at a ground where I have such fond memories of - the Kensington Oval -- and play in a big tournament in some different conditions.
“I’ve got a few things to do with the ECB, there’s obviously a process to go through and then I start training I guess.”