Alex Hales has once again been given the backing of England coach Trevor Bayliss to make his Test debut at the top of the England order - and legendary former all-rounder Ian Botham is excited by the prospect.

Hales has become a feature in both white ball formats since the final two matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup, posting a maiden century in the second One-Day International against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

Botham, who is these days a leading critique on England selection and performance in his role as a Sky Sports commentator, believes Hales - who has averaged 50 in red ball cricket for Nottinghamshire during the past two years - has earned his opportunity.

"It doesn't matter how well he does in the series, if it proves to be a success or not," said Botham. "He has earned the right to play and I hope he does well.

"He has been on the last couple of tours, and not played, but he isn't in South Africa to carry drinks this time.

"He deserved his chance, and the kind of management England have got now, they will stand by him."

Botham’s comments came on the back of selection assurances made by Bayliss at a recent press conference.

"Halesy has been with the squad for the last couple of series without getting a game,” said the Head Coach.

"He's the only other opener in the squad so I doubt very much anyone else will take that slot. He deserves his opportunity at the top of the order to try and make that spot his own."


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