With just over a month to go for the ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup, England's cricket team has been hit by an unwanted controversy. Alex Hales, the opening batsman, who had apparently gone on an 'indefinite leave' citing 'personal reasons' has now been discovered to be actually serving a 21-day ban after testing positive for use of a recreational drug. According to a report published in the Guardian newspaper, Hales was discovered to be in use of the aforementioned substance following a test which is routinely conducted by the England Cricket Board (ECB).
The right hander, who plays for Nottinghamshire in county circuit, is part of the England 15-man squad for the upcoming World Cup. His decision to seek an indefinite leave had left the team concerned about his availability for the big event that starts on May 30.
Prone to controversy
The 30-year old is no stranger to controversies. In 2017, he was with Ben Stokes when the latter was involved in a street brawl outside a pub in Bristol that led to legal action as well as penalties from the cricket authorities. Apart from that, Hales had tested positive for drug use once before as well, something that compounds his present offence.
England Cricket Board (ECB) has created a strong policy to detect and act in such cases. This follows the death of Tom Maynard, a budding Surrey cricketer who died in 2012 and was discovered as having been under the influence of recreational substances. All England cricketers are required to submit their hair follicles for testing on a regular basis.
Hales has been in and out of the England ODI team since the incident with Ben Stokes. It was the episode in Bristol that first allowed Jonny Bairstow to come into the playing XI as his replacement in the opening position. The impressive performances by Bairstow meant that Hales had to often be the reserve batsman in the squad.
The primary opening partnership for the English ODI team currently is Jason Roy and Bairstow. The danger for Hales now is an exclusion from the eventual 15-man squad that England announce. The squad that has been selected as of now is a provisional one as the ICC rules allow teams to make changes till May 23. If England want, they can choose to leave Hales out of the final 15.
England's national side have a training camp taking place in Cardiff which begins this weekend. The Notts player is expected to join it. The English team kick off their international summer with an ODI against Ireland on May 3. This will be followed by a very crucial 5-match ODI series against Pakistan beginning on 8th of the month. The final composition of the playing XI as well as the 15-man squad will depend on the outcomes of this series.