England opener Alex Hales is all set to replace David Warner in the 11th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Having gone unsold in the auction in January, Hales received a call-up from the SRH franchise when their talismanic captain Warner was found to be the chief conspirator in the ball-tampering saga.
Warner was suspended by Cricket Australia (CA) for his involvement in this disgraceful scandal that rocked the entire cricketing fraternity on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Following the decision of CA, the BCCI also barred Warner and former Australia skipper Steve Smith from participating in the cash-rich league. It is worth mentioning here that Warner has led SRH to IPL triumph in 2016 besides being the highest run-getter last season.
SRH will start their 2018 IPL campaign against Rajasthan Royals on Monday (April 9). Ahead of the first match, Hales, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, opened up about his role at Sunrisers and what it means to replace David Warner in the side.
“It’s still amazing to be a part of it. It’s going to be my first full season in the IPL. I was here as a replacement for Aaron Finch a few years ago but never got to play. So to be here from the start is pretty exciting. Obviously, the circumstances under which I’m here are unfortunate and I’ve got big boots to fill. I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Hales told Hindustan Times.
“I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. That pressure’s going to be there from external sources. So the important thing is enjoying it, training hard and hoping to be part of a successful franchise and carrying on with what they’ve done. The biggest thing for me is not overthinking things too much and just enjoying it,” he added.
Besides the proposed sanctions, CA had also stated that each one of the convicted trio will have to complete 100 hours of community service before being considered for future selection. While Smith and Bancroft will have to wait two years before they are considered for leadership roles, Warner will never again be considered for captaincy as he was found to be the instigator of the plan.
Smith, Warner and Bancroft are still eligible to compete in club cricket, but they can’t take part in state or international games for the duration of their bans.
When asked about his opinion on the ball-tampering row, Hales said: “It’s obviously disappointing. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes and it’s been dealt with Cricket Australia so I’m actually pretty limited on what I can say regarding the issue. It’s a shame. It’s a shame for Sunrisers to lose their captain but no doubt he’ll be back in the following years.”
Hales also talked about the factors which kept him motivated after not being able to attract any of the eight franchises in the auction.
“I don’t think it’s difficult to stay motivated. I still had a couple of fixtures for England, the Pakistan Super League. So I kept myself busy, was playing a lot of cricket. When I got back home, it’s amazing how quickly things can change in cricket. You’re always replacing players and upcoming people get niggles here and there; it’s a very long tournament. The important thing for me was to stay fit and keep practicing when I got back to England and you never know what might come along in the future,” he revealed.
Hales will no longer feature in the County Championship for Nottinghamshire as the 29-year-old had signed a new deal in February as per which he will only participate in limited-overs cricket until the end of the 2019 season.
On being asked whether his decision to move away from red ball cricket has affected his chance in the IPL auction, Hales said: "I’m not sure to be honest. You’re probably asking the wrong guy. If you look around the people who weren’t picked up are incredible players. Martin Guptill is one of them, Hashim Amla again.”
“Every year there are names where people go like ‘Wow! How is this guy not picked up’… Joe Root. He can bowl off-spin as well and he would have been a great pick-up so… There’s always class players who are not picked up. As I said, things can change quickly and I’ve got a chance. I’ll try and do as well as I can and hopefully not be in that situation again,” he concluded.