England white-ball coach Matthew Mott has said winning the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia later this year was the team’s goal, and that all-rounder Ben Stokes and the returning Alex Hales do not need to be ‘best mates’ as Jos Buttler’s side bids to add the 20-over trophy to the ODI World Cup they won in 2019.
The 33-year-old Hales was recently included in the England T20 squad for the seven-match series against Pakistan followed by the T20 World Cup in Australia after the opening batter returned to the side following three years in the cricketing wilderness due to a recreational drug misdemeanor just before the 2019 50-over World Cup.
He was subsequently dropped from the squad as then limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan felt Hales had “shown a complete disregard” for team values. But following Morgan’s retirement and Jonny Bairstow’s freak injury, Hales approached the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and got positive feedback, facilitating his return under a new leadership group of Buttler and Mott.
Incidentally, Hales was with Stokes during a late-night street brawl in September 2017, which reportedly left two people injured. Stokes lost his England vice-captaincy and a place on the Ashes tour. Later, the all-rounder was acquitted after the jury accepted he had acted in self-defense.
Stokes also played a key role in England defeating New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup final; the same event where Hales was ejected from the squad for his recreational drugs misdemeanor and for not apologizing to his teammates.
However, Mott believes the incidents of the past will not have a bearing on the team’s campaign in the T20 World Cup.
“Probably the key phone call for me was when I rang Trevor Bayliss and asked if he had any views (on Hales) since obviously he was (England) coach at the time and has worked with him (Hales) at Sydney Thunder (BBL),” Mott was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.
“He said he’s had absolutely no problem with him (Hales) at all, he’s (Hales) made mistakes but he’s trying to get better and for me that’s it. Nobody’s perfect, I’m certainly not, but if he’s trying to get better and he’s the best player then we can work around it,” added Mott.
Stokes had reportedly refused to elaborate on his relationship with Hales recently and Mott said: a “common goal” outweighs everything.
“And as far as that (Stokes) relationship goes, they might not be best mates and that’s OK, you work with colleagues all the time who aren’t your best mate but you can work with them if you’ve got a common goal,” said Mott.
“Ben’s said it, he wants to win World Cups, Alex does as well, we all do, so try and pick the best players and if they end up becoming good mates again that’s great, if not, as long as they’re going towards that goal of winning together then that’s how teams function.”