But Giles, the England men’s team director, has also insisted that Hales has not been “deselected” as a direct result of that indiscretion. Instead, according to Giles, Hales was axed from England’s World Cup plans because of “a string of poor behaviour over time” and “the effect the [latest] news had on the players, the management and the captain”.
Giles also confirmed that, while he was aware of Hales’ second drug test failure before the selection of England’s provisional 15-man World Cup squad – only Giles, Tom Harrison (the ECB’s CEO) and Nick Peirce (the ECB’s chief medical officer) were informed among ECB officials – he had not passed on the information to the selectors as he was “bound by a duty of confidentiality”.
ALSO READ: ‘Breakdown in trust’ between Hales and team – Morgan
“When the teams were selected, the selectors and the captain were unaware of any issue surrounding Alex,” Giles said. “The advice we got from our legal guys was categorically we had a duty of confidentiality which we stuck to. We couldn’t tell them, simple as that.
“But once the story broke on Friday, the effect of it on the England environment – on the players, management and captain – was really strong. We’re building towards our biggest summer of cricket in 40-50 years and our responsibility is to making sure we’re in the best possible shape going into the World Cup. This became too big a distraction for our environment to have.”
Speaking candidly on Thursday afternoon, England’s captain Eoin Morgan confirmed that he and the team’s senior players – Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes – had reached the conclusion that Hales’ place in their plans was untenable, due to a “lack of respect for [the team] values, and … a complete breakdown of trust”. Giles subsequently confirmed that he had been asked to take action.
“Being at England’s camp in Wales and seeing the effect of that news, it was clear it wasn’t going to work,” he said. “There’s an element of trust in that environment and if that trust is not within the group, that’s a problem. I think that’s what occurred here. It could be seen that a string of poor behaviour over time has led us to this point.
“There was consultation. The captain consulted with his senior players and I talked to the captain and the coach. I’m not a selector, but the selectors were unanimous in this decision, fully supported by myself and Tom Harrison that this was the right way to go.”
While Giles was adamant the door had not been permanently closed on Hales’ England aspirations, he did confirm the player “had some making up to do”.
“Alex has been an important part of this team’s journey over a period,” he said. “The door isn’t closed, whatever people think.
“What we want to see is some really good behaviour over time and some good cricket, of course. We’re there to support him. I understand he’s going back to play for Notts but it’s important we have support from all corners, whether it be the PCA, the ECB or Notts. The player’s welfare is still fundamental. But there’s some making up to do, I’m sure.”
Giles seemed particularly underwhelmed by the statement from Hales’ management team which suggested that previous assurances from Giles that Hales’ World Cup place would not be affected were “rendered meaningless” by the subsequent decision to ‘deselect’ him.
“I didn’t think that statement was particularly good, but he’s clearly disappointed and we get that,” Giles said. “We – Tom Harrison and I – kept our part of the bargain and maintained our integrity throughout this. Someone else clearly didn’t. That’s the problem.
“We said no off-the-field incident could have a bearing on World Cup selection. We stand by that. Any process, whether it be discipline or otherwise, you can’t have double jeopardy.
“At the same time, Tom and I can’t make guarantees on selection because we’re not selectors. That’s not handing over responsibility, but we assured him in this case that, for this off-the-field incident, it could not have a bearing on World Cup selection.
“But once the story broke, the effect was really strong. It was too big a distraction for our environment to have. So yes, of course, had the story not been made public, the environment would not have been affected and he could have stayed in the side.”
England’s policies on the issue of recreational drugs may need to change. While he accepted the current guidelines had been put in place to avoid a recurrence of the Tom Maynard tragedy in 2012 – many felt Maynard may not have attempted a desperate escape from the police if he was less fearful of the repercussions to his career of a potential drugs test failure – he conceded they required reviewing in light of the Hales case.
“The worst thing we could do is bury our heads in the sand and go, let’s hope this doesn’t happen again,” Giles said. “If policies need reviewing, that’s what we have to do to make sure next time things work much smoother.
“Let’s remember why it was put in place. That policy was put in place after the Tom Maynard situation, a terrible situation, where if we had something like this in place, maybe that could have been avoided. But whether it operates right or not, that’s what needs review.”