Monday, 7 May 2012


Last season was a good one for Notts’ 23-year-old batsman Alex Hales as he received his county cap and made a debut for England in Twenty20 cricket. A winter away in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with the England Lions and then as an unused part of the full limited overs squad has kept him very much in the selectors’ thoughts, but a good season with Notts is essential if he wants to kick on…

I seem to remember reading somewhere that, as a youngster, you hit 30-odd off an over. What was the story?
It was actually 50-odd, 55, in one over. It was at Lord’s Nursery Ground. The bowler bowled three no-balls and there were eight sixes and a four. I was about fifteen or sixteen and it was a London County Cricket Club founder’s day tournament – a Twenty20 competition. We actually needed 77 off two overs and ended up getting them. It was quite a good day.

Is that what caught the attention of Notts, as you’re from the Home Counties, aren’t you?
No it wasn’t. I got lucky, really. One of my Dad’s friends was good friends with Jason Gallian, who was the ex-captain here, and he managed to get me a trial with the Second XI when I was 18. And that was how I ended up here.

Did you support another county when you were younger?
Erm, not really. I’m probably a Middlesex lad at heart. I grew up round that area so if I had to pick one it’d be them.

Was there anything specific about Notts that appealed to you compared to the other counties? Did it seem like a big club?
Yeah, it did. They were actually the first team to ask me to trial for them, so when you don’t have a county you take any offers you can get. But the ground here is fantastic and they’re a great bunch of guys.

Who took you under their wing when you first arrived, made you feel comfortable in the dressing room, and showed you the city?
I’d say probably Luke Fletcher. We both signed at the same time and have sort of been knocking around together ever since. Everyone’s been good. Paul Franks. Stuart Broad signed at the same time as me. We all get along well.

Last year you scored your PB against Somerset and were awarded your county cap in front of the Trent Bridge pavilion. Was that your career highlight so far?
It’d be up there, but I’d probably say the highlight so far was my England debut. But a county cap’s a very special thing and I put in a lot of hard work over the years at Notts and that’s a good reward for it. 

Hales sports his county cap

Did you feel different, once you’d got the cap on?
A little bit, yeah [chuckles to himself]. Probably just a bit mentally different. It’s obviously a great thing to be awarded a cap and I’m wearing it with a lot of pride.

Somerset were also responsible for two of Notts’ worst moments of the last two seasons: knocking you out in the semis of the T20 in 2010 and quarters in 2011. Having won all your home games, were you a bit disappointed to draw Somerset, on paper the strongest team? Was there any trepidation or lack of belief going into the game?
When the draw came out – I’m not going to say we weren’t disappointed because we were, because they were probably the strongest team in the South Group. Once game day came along all that was put aside and obviously we were bitterly disappointed to have lost to them for a second time in a row. But I don’t think there was anything I the back of our minds going into the game. I think we tried to do our best and unfortunately it didn’t happen.

After a strong campaign for Notts, you also forced your way into the England T20 side. Was that a surprise?
It was a little bit of a surprise. You’re obviously going to be a bit surprised before your debut comes along because you never really expect to get in, but once I got in there I was really buzzing for it. I’ve now played four in total. I want to try and get myself back into that team. I missed the last few games (in Dubai). 

How long before the game did you find out you were in squad?
I found out the day before the squad was announced, so I was obviously very excited.  

And what were the emotions as you were walking out to bat: ‘just let me get off the mark’ or ‘put one in my slot and you’re going out of the park’?
My plan was to get off the mark, but unfortunately it didn’t happen on my debut. I ended up getting nought. But, psychologically, I was just trying to treat it like any normal Notts game.

International aims for 2012? Competition for places in England set-up is brutal: Jos Buttler, Johnny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and others are coming through.
Well, obviously I want to try and get back in the England Twenty20 team or the Englans team in any form of the game. It was a very big thing for me. 

The thing about cricket is you can be playing for your country one day and in a club match the next. A mutual friend said that you once wrote on Facebook that you were “the worst league batsman in the country”. Is that still true? And what do you make of the standard of club cricket in Notts?
Without a shadow of a doubt I’m one of the worst league batsmen in the country. I’ve got an appalling record. I don’t know why that is but I recommend that any clubs in Nottingham don’t get in touch with me. But, yeah, I have played a bit here in the Notts Premier League and it’s a good standard. A very good standard. And very enjoyable as well. 

What are your aims for 2012 with Notts?
I want to try and better what I did last year and get even more runs.

What’s the most important trophy to win next year? 
County Championship. The four-day stuff.

Obviously Notts have never won the Twenty20 and to do so would mean qualification for the T20 Champions League in India, putting you in the shop window for the IPL (Indian Premier League). Is that something that appeals?
Without a shadow of a doubt, yeah. I think any young player would want to try and get in the IPL. It’s a tournament full of all the best players in the world, so that’s definitely an aim. But Notts take every form of the game very seriously and we’ll be trying hard in all forms.

Whose mood best captures the team’s mood in the Notts dressing room? Who’s the emotional barometer?
I’d have to say Paul Franks. He’s probably the loudest one. Everyone knows about it when he’s around.

Lastly, a couple of questions about your adopted home city: Where would you take someone on a night out to show them the best of the city?
Pandora’s Box nightclub

And what is the current score in terms of European Cup victories between the cities of London and Nottingham?
I’d say 4-1 to Nottingham…?



Squad comedian: Paul Franks
Hardest in the squad: Karl Turner
Best ‘sledger’ (trash-talker): Chris Read
Best dressed: Myself… No, Jake Ball
Brainiest: Andre Adams
Best drinker: Luke Fletcher
Best golfer: Michael Lumb
Darts Player: Myself
Person not to be trusted with ream stereo: Andre Adams

A version of this interview first appeared on LeftLion

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