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17 Jul 2019, Edition - 1464, Wednesday

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Sports

Alex Hales withdrawn from England squads after drugs ban

The Guardian

England batsman Alex Hales will not feature at the World Cup after being withdrawn from all international squads following an off-field incident not related to cricket.

Hales was included in England’s 15-man preliminary World Cup squad but it emerged on Friday, as revealed by the Guardian, that he had been sanctioned under the England and Wales Cricket Board’s disciplinary policy for a second time. Hales is currently serving a 21-day ban from cricket for recreational drug use.

An ECB statement read: “Alex Hales has been withdrawn from all England squads ahead of the international season.”

Hales’ latest misdemeanour comes just a few months after he was suspended and fined by the ECB for his part in the notorious street brawl in Bristol also involving Ben Stokes in September 2017.

As such, the Nottinghamshire batsman has been stood down from this Friday’s one-off Twenty20 against Ireland in Malahide, the upcoming limited-overs series against Pakistan and the World Cup.

Ashley Giles, ECB managing director of England Cricket, said: “We have thought long and hard about this decision. We have worked hard to create the right environment around the England team and need to consider what is in the best interests of the team, to ensure they are free from any distractions and able to focus on being successful on the pitch.

“I want to make it clear this is not the end of Alex’s career as an England player. The ECB and the Professional Cricketers’ Association will continue to aid Alex and work alongside his county club Nottinghamshire to give him the support he needs, to help him fulfil his potential as a professional cricketer.”

The incident in Bristol led to Hales losing his place in England’s first-choice ODI team. Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have been the preferred opening pairing in the last 18 months though Hales, with 2,419 ODI runs at 37.79 and six centuries, was thought of by many as an enviable back-up option. The ECB will name his replacement “in due course”.

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