Alex Hales hasn't given up on his dreams of making a comeback to the England white-ball set-up. The right-handed dasher has been a consistent performer in the T20 leagues around the world but still has not been forgiven for his misdemeanours in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup. Hales tested positive for a recreational drug ahead of the mega event and hasn't played for England since then.
"Every tournament I play is always a chance for me to keep reminding people I'm still an international quality player," said Hales after his tortoise-and-hare innings of 40* from 34 balls sealed a remarkable two-wicket win for Trent Rockets against Northern Superchargers in the inaugural edition of The Hundred.
"I think the last two years I've done that. Every tournament I've gone to, I've performed well and shown people that I'm still that level of a cricketer, so that's all I can keep doing. If that chance comes along again, then great."
Chasing 133, Trent were reduced to 58/6 but Hales stood there till the very end and only left the field once the job was done. The 32-year-old got good support from Lewis Gregory (8-ball 14), Rashid Khan (12-ball 25) and Matthew Carter (8-ball 13*) as Trent hunted down the target with six deliveries to spare.
"It was a really scrappy, ugly win. I guess that's a sign of a good team because we had our backs to the wall a lot throughout that game and we still managed to come out on top," said Hales.
"I always felt that if I was in at the end, we'd have a chance. It was a fairly difficult pitch to bat on, not your typical Trent Bridge pitch, but you can always catch up at the end there, with the fast-scoring outfield and smallish boundaries. I just tried to hang in there and take it as deep as I could.
"It was a combination of a few things, really," he added of his sluggish start - 16 off 25. "I found a lot of fielders early in my innings, then I didn't have much of the strike, and then when I did, we'd lose a few wickets so I just couldn't really get settled at the crease.
"They've got a high-class spin attack, and they are difficult to score against, so it was fairly ugly to start with. But Matt, Rashid and Lewis also played some really important roles to rescue the team and take the scoreboard pressure off me. They were great cameos from those three, and it helped set up a scrappy, decent win."
Talking about the tournament, Hales said: "It's felt close to international cricket, and the buzz around this ground in the last few days has been unbelievable. It genuinely had that feel, almost of an international fixture, and the quality of cricket has been really good as well - the condensing down to eight teams has really lifted the standard. It's still early days in the tournament, but so far it's felt really competitive and really enjoyable."