Ed Smith on Alex Hales: "No doors are closed in terms of there’s no final decision. It’s not that it’s going to be the same indefinitely. But at the moment, if I had to make a prediction, I would say we’d stay as we are."
A day after the England selector stated that Hales’ exile from the England side would continue, the Englishman smoked a 56-ball 110 and propelled Sydney Thunder to the highest-ever team total in BBL history. Hales hasn't played for England since March 2019 but the dashing opener has set the BBL 2020/21 on fire and is giving the English team management some serious headaches.
He struck nine fours and eight maximums during his stay in the middle and helped his team defeat their cross-city rivals Sydney Sixers by 46 runs at the Adelaide Oval on Friday (January 22). The Sixers are still sitting at the top of the table, while Callum Ferguson and Co. moved to No. 3 in the points table.
Asked to bat, Hales was well supported by Ferguson, Sam Billings and Ben Cutting as the Thunder smacked 232/5 in their 20 overs. In reply, Moises Henriques scored a fifty but the Sixers never looked in the game.
ALL HAIL, HALES!
Jackson Bird got decent movement with the new ball and troubled Hales in the first over but the Englishman made up for it by going after Steve O'Keefe. The right-handed opener slammed the left-arm spinner for three fours and a six in the second over and got his team off to a flying start. Hales started to time the ball beautifully and stamped his authority by smoking Bird for a maximum over sweeper cover. The dasher played his shots all around the wicket and did most of the scoring in the first three overs. Usman Khawaja (6) however couldn't make an impact and was dismissed by Ben Dwarshuis in the final over of the powerplay.
Ferguson, who is generally a slow-starter, announced his arrival with a six and didn't take any time to settle in. The Thunder skipper took some pressure off Hales who was going all guns blazing at the other end. The two smashed at least one boundary every over and kept the pressure on the Sixers. Hales displayed his brute force against O'Keefe and Lloyd Pope and in the process brought up his fifty off just 26 deliveries.
Meanwhile, Ferguson was more aggressive against the fast bowlers and used their pace to his advantage. The duo played some astounding shots and got the better of every bowler. Ferguson crafted three fours and as many sixes in his 23-ball 42 before he was caught at deep mid-wicket. Ferguson's departure made no difference whatsoever as runs kept flowing from both ends.
Hales found an able ally in Billings and the two kept the scoring rate over 10 all the time. The duo played with the field and were very aggressive against Pope and O'Keefe. There were quite a few cross-batted shots but both Hales and Billings looked in complete control during their 53-run stand. Billings hit three fours and a six before becoming Dwarshuis' second victim. The wicketkeeper-batsman slammed 33 off 21 and ensured Hales didn't have to go for needless shots. Meanwhile, Hales pounced on anything short and the Sixers bowlers looked clueless against him.
The Thunder took the Power Surge (overs 18-19) very late in the innings and Hales continued to wreak havoc. The 32-year-old clobbered Daniel Christian for 4, 6, 4 and 4 in the 18th over and brought up his maiden BBL century off only 51 deliveries. He along with Cutting blasted Christian for 25 runs in the first over of the Power Surge and then smacked Carlos Brathwaite for 13 runs. Hales perished in the penultimate over but Cutting chipped in with a fiery 14-ball 33 and demoralized the Sixers even further.
Josh Philippe and James Vince had to attack from the word go and the two hit Nathan McAndrew for five fours in the second over to get the chase rolling. They managed 21 from that over but could only score 19 in the other three. Adam Milne and Brendan Doggett were brilliant but skipper Ferguson straightaway introduced his leading wicket-taker Tanveer Sangha once the powerplay was over. The legspinner didn't get a wicket in his first over but Philippe was run out for an 11-ball 20. Daniel Hughes was knocked over for just 1 but Vince kept the scoreboard racing and played quite a few eye-pleasing shots through covers.
The right-hander from England was particularly aggressive against Sangha, smashing him for four fours. The legspinner however had his revenge in his second over and had Vince caught at long-off. The opener crafted 38 off 23 but couldn't convert it into something substantial. Henriques and Jordan Silk kept the scoreboard ticking but never felt like they were trying to go for the total. The Thunder bowlers did well in the middle-overs and claimed the Bash Boost Point with the utmost ease.
It was Henriques who finally cut loose in the second half of the innings. Playing his first game of the season, Henriques hit Milne for 17 runs in the Power Surge (overs 14-15) and got to his fifty off 29 deliveries. They accumulated 29 from the Power Surge but by then the game was already over. Henriques slammed 56 off 35 before he was wrongly given caught behind off Sangha. The young legspinner finished with figures of 2/34. Nathan McAndrew had a horrible day as he was smacked for 57 in his four overs. Silk (30-ball 42) and Christian (21*) played decent cameos, but the Sixers fell way short of the target.