Having scored an impressive half-century in the warm-up win over Australia, Nottinghamshire opener Alex Hales is set to partner Craig Kieswetter at the top of the order for England in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. Here, the hard-hitting right-hander talks us through his approach to Twenty20 batting.
Role: Right-hand opening bat tasked with filling the shoes of Kevin Pietersen and getting England off to a flyer
Stand-out Twenty20 performances: Set a record England partnership in his second match – putting on 128 with Craig Kieswetter against West Indies – before breaking his own record in a stand of 159 with Ravi Bopara against the same opposition in June, falling one run short of becoming England’s first Twenty20 centurion.
Did you feel under pressure before your 99 against West Indies – with just one innings to seal your place before the squad was selected?
I definitely felt a little bit of pressure, there were a lot of people saying Cook should have come in after doing well in the one-dayers and Pietersen’s got very big shoes to fill, but I’m happy with how it went and that I did all I could to push my claim to a spot.
Have you had much experience of playing in the subcontinent?
Yeah, actually last winter was quite a good stepping-stone. We had a three-week training camp in Pune in India with the Lions, basically playing and practising against spin bowling which was pretty intense. Also the Lions tour in the winter was to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, so we had a good taste of playing in subcontinent conditions against pretty tough opposition. It’s a different challenge to what you face in England and out in Sri Lanka there will be a lot of spin in the first six overs.
I’d say I definitely favour the off side, especially early on in the innings. You always get a lot of gaps on the off side in the first six overs so I try and play normal cricket shots effectively.
His go-to boundary-finder…
If it’s in that first six overs I’ll probably try to give myself a little bit of room and look to hit the ball through the covers. If it’s towards the death I’ll look to mid wicket.
Finding a quick single…
For a sharp single I’d probably look to go the other way, go across my stumps and knock it into square leg.
Keeping it simple…
Even in Twenty20 I’m a fairly orthodox player – I don’t try and get too funky with flicks over short fine leg like Jos Buttler.
Playing the spinners…
I try to work hard on my sweeping and I played it quite a lot out in Sri Lanka with the Lions. It’s something that can be quite a good option if you get left-armers on a turning pitch. In the lead up to the tournament I’m working hard on my sweeps, reverse sweeps and using my feet to hit over extra cover.
Using his height…
Being tall, I try to use my height to really get down the pitch and stop the ball from spinning past the outside edge.
Using the crease…
You have to be smart about how you use your feet and the depth of your crease, particularly against spin, because if the bowler senses a weakness and gets into a rhythm they’ll be all over you. It’s a very big part of any batsman’s game in international cricket.
Having a look…
There are players out there who will back themselves to hit their first ball out of the ground, but it’s not really my game. I’m a bit more orthodox than that and will probably try and get my runs with pretty normal shots in the first few overs. But in Twenty20 cricket, if the ball is there your aim is to put it away.