England white-ball skipper Jos Butter has indicated Alex Hales is in pole position to partner him at the top of the batting order in the upcoming matches of the three-match T20I series against Australia and the ICC T20 World Cup, beginning on October 16.
England defeated Australia by eight runs in a thrilling opening T20I to take a 1-0 lead in the series here on Sunday. The win marked England’s first victory in men’s T20Is in Australia in 11 years. Their first and only win in Australia in a T20I came in 2011 in Adelaide when they won by one wicket. Since then, England lost all six T20Is they played in Australia until the game on Sunday.
Buttler and Hales treated Australia’s second-string attack — which was without Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell — with disdain and recorded a 132-run opening partnership. It was the highest men’s T20I opening-wicket partnership in Australia, and England’s second highest in the format.
Hales scored 84 off 51 balls, while Buttler, returning to the side after missing the seven-match T20I series against Pakistan due to a calf injury, scored 68.
Phil Salt is the other England player who is in contention to open with Butter. But the skipper said the Hales had got the “first crack” at the moment.
Hales was a bit scrappy at the start, but the 33-year-old soon got his touch in what was the largest T20 opening partnership in Australia. “He’s got first crack at it at the minute,” Buttler was quoted as saying by Daily Mail when asked if Hales had confirmed his World Cup place.
“It was a very tough call (picking between Hales and Salt) and we spent a lot of time debating it. It was only Alex’s record in Australia that got him ahead,” added Buttler.