Learning Curve For Hales On India Trip

Comment and Analysis | 21st December 2011

To some, it may seem a little rich for Alex Hales to describe his touring experience with England to India this autumn as being 'boring'.

For those around Nottingham slogging it out to make a living in today's tough climate, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that the 22-year-old should have no reason to complain.

But when you discover why Hales felt that way – at times posting his frustration on a social networking site – his feelings are altogether more understandable.

He enjoyed his time playing and practising in the different climes on the sub-continent.

But once the action was over, Hales had to pass hours upon end with little to do – quite the opposite from what he would be used to back home.

It was an experience he felt was just as difficult, if not more so, than lifting his game to play in the international arena after a terrific 2011 playing domestically for Notts.

But as he attempts to make the breakthrough to the higher level on a regular basis, it is an insight he believes will prove invaluable.

"We were pretty much in our rooms the whole time, with security very tight," said Hales. "I was not really very chuffed to just live out of a hotel room all the time, but it's something you have to get used to.

"All you can do really is go on your x-box and on the internet. Dealing with the boredom is hard.

"The fact that there were other younger lads there as well helped me a lot because apart from that you are on your own with your own thoughts.

"You finish training about 2pm or 3pm and then you have nothing to do.

"It's different in Australia or South Africa because you can go out and do something, but it wasn't so much the case on this trip.

"You are very limited and it was mentally challenging, but you have to get through it.

"It helped having Samit (Patel) and Swanny (Graeme Swann) from Notts and I knew one or two others from playing junior cricket from being nine or 10 years old."

On the field, Hales was also pushed hard by conditions that were very much removed from the ones he regularly encounters at Trent Bridge.

Following on from three T20 international appearances in the summer, he played in the only T20 clash against India at Kolkata. That test of technique and temperament saw him score 11 from 19 balls at the top of the order.

Hales said: "It was a tough experience batting there, going out in the middle of the one-day tour.

"We were limited with the amount of practice before I actually played – I only had one or two. It's very different conditions to what we are used to back home.

"In the game I was playing on a wicket that was turning against a high quality spin attack in the first six overs.

"That is something I have never really come across before in the English domestic game.

"But it was a good learning experience and hopefully it should stand me in good stead."

Hales had previously appeared against India on his T20 debut at Manchester in August. That occasion did not go quite to plan, but that was far from his mind as he walked out to bat in front of a sizeable crowd.

"I didn't really think about that first duck when I went out to bat – although it was probably a good thing it was not Praveen Kumar (the bowler to dismiss him in that Old Trafford match) who was running in at me!" said Hales.

"It was unbelievable to play in front of more than 50,000 people, which is more than double what I have played in front of in any match in England.

"Whenever the Indians hit a boundary or took a wicket the noise was just incredible. It is something I will remember for a long time."

Hales arrived back from India yesterday having returned there for a three-week training camp ahead of England's series against Pakistan in the first part of the New Year.

The right-hander has been keen to use that time to enhance his game and show the England hierarchy he belongs at the highest level.

Hales said: "I'm not sure when the one-day squads are picked for the tour early next year, but I definitely want to be part of the T20 games.

"I'm not in the ODI team at the moment, but the camp in India has given me chance to push my claims.

"There will probably be opportunities to break into the ODI team in the next year or so it's up to me to perform well so I am in the selectors' thinking."

In the longer-term, Hales is already planning to build on an excellent summer in the green and gold of Notts when he passed 1,000 County Championship runs for the first time – the county's only batsman to do so.

The former Buckinghamshire player is acutely aware that any drop in standards in 2012 could quickly result in him falling out of England contention.

"I was very happy with the way the 2011 season went, but now the challenge is to back it up and do it for a second season in a row," said Hales.

"You don't want to get second season syndrome. If you want to stay involved in the England set-up, you have to show you are going in the right direction."

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