Eoin Morgan, England’s captain, has said that a “complete breakdown of trust” between Alex Hales and his England team-mates led to his banishment from the one-day squad, and confirmed that it was the senior players who reached the conclusion that they wanted him to play no further part in their World Cup preparations.
In a damning expression of the extent to which Hales has fallen from grace since it was revealed that he was serving a 21-day ban for a second failed drugs test, Morgan said that the protection of England’s team culture was sacrosanct as they embark on the final preparations for a home World Cup campaign in which the team are currently rated the No. 1 side and pre-tournament favourites.
Speaking on the eve of England’s one-off ODI against Ireland in Dublin, Morgan laid out the process by which Hales was removed from the squad on Monday morning, having attended a pre-season get-together in Cardiff that previous weekend.
“I spoke to the coach [Trevor Bayliss] at depth,” Morgan said. “I spoke to all of our senior players – I actually called the meeting with the senior players to discuss moving forward, how it would affect the team, and the team culture.
“We’ve worked extremely hard on our team culture in the last 18 months since the Bristol incident,” he added. “It really did open our eyes to ourselves, only not being judged on performance but how we are as role models, we really need to step up and recognise that it’s a huge part of our job.
“So establishing that culture and working on it, to try and find values that everybody across all three formats can adhere to, those values have been in place for the last six months.
“Unfortunately Alex’s actions have shown complete disregard for those values, and there has been a complete breakdown of trust between the team and Alex.”
Morgan added that the decision had been reached in consultation with “the six most experienced guys in the team, [including] myself”, namely Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes.
“We’ve been around a very long time,” he said. “We’ve been through thick and thin. And, as a group, culture is extremely important to us. And that resounding theme came out of that meeting, and we felt that, moving forward, it would actually have quite a significant contribution, particularly going into the World Cup and Ashes year.”
“We will need at least 15 men to win that World Cup. For whatever way Alex would have dealt with it, the other 14 people would have been dragged down and that would have been quite a weight taken forward, and that didn’t outweigh his performance.”
Having reached their decision, the next step for the squad was to inform the senior management and selectors of their wishes, with the upshot that Ashley Giles, the England managing director, cited the “best interests of the team” in confirming Hales’ de-selection, “to ensure they are free from any distractions and able to focus on being successful on the pitch”.
Morgan added: “Obviously, we can’t make that decision, we can only speak to the selectors and Ashley Giles about how the team feel moving forward. It’s quite a big part of our team and what we need to do, particularly in a year that has such significance with the Ashes and the World Cup coming up.
“I don’t think we have cast him adrift… To deselect him we felt was the best decision simply because he did not adhere to everything that we have been working towards for a very long time.”
Asked to assess Hales’ head-space during the Cardiff get-together, Morgan refused to be drawn into a sympathetic appraisal, but encouraged the player to seek the help he needs to get his career back on track.
“We didn’t congregate a lot as a team while Alex was down there,” he said. “There was a lot of medical testing that took place, so I couldn’t be clear on his head space. But it’s very important that Alex utilises the support and the help put in place by the ECB and the PCA [Professional Cricketers’ Association] from here to try and regain that trust.”
“I have had communication with Alex [since the weekend], I have reiterated that the support is there, and for him to try to utilise it.”