Ben Stokes and Alex Hales Named in England One-Day Squad for Upcoming Series against Australia
Both Ben Stokes and Alex Hales have been named in the 16 man squad for England’s upcoming one-day series against Australia.
Why aren’t they playing Tests?
Ben Stokes was suspended from the Test side after he was filmed in an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub. Police are still investigating the incident, and it appears no resolution will be reached in time for him to make an appearance in the Ashes series, which England are currently losing 2-0.
Alex Hales was also present at the incident in question, but after being dropped for the two ODI's immediately following it he has been cleared of any charges. While he is a talented ODI batsman, however, he is yet to make his mark at Test level. He has played 11 Tests and averaged just 27.28, and after passing 50 just once in his last eight innings, he was dropped in August 2016 and has not returned to the team since.
Will they play the ODI series?
Presumably. Both of them were contributing members of the England ODI team in the series against West Indies during which the alleged nightclub incident took place. Hales was averaging 32.5 as England’s opening batsman in the series, and scoring his runs in a typically rapid manner with a strike rate of well over 100.
In the same series, Ben Stokes was showing why he is rated as one of the world’s best all-rounders. In the first ODI, he picked up three wickets for 43 runs before getting them over the line with the bat, scoring 23* in just 10 balls. After the second ODI was rained out, he contributed 73 runs in 63 balls in the third match, playing a pivotal role in England’s 369 run total.
Both are comfortably in England’s best XI, and the fact that they are named means presumably they will play.
What does this mean for England’s ODI chances against Australia?
A lot. Hales is a talented opening batsman who is capable of making big scores in quick time. Last year, he scored 171 off 122 balls against Pakistan, and shortly before that he hit six sixes on his way to 133* off 110 balls. His career batting average in ODI’s is 37.89, and he boasts a very impressive strike rate of 96.66. His presence is vital for the England team as it allows his fellow opener, Jonny Bairstow, to play a more measured role and work his way into an innings.
Stokes is probably England’s most important player. Coming in in the middle order, he averages 35.10 in ODI's, and like Hales boasts an impressive strike rate of 98.74. Earlier this year, he showed his capability with the bat against the Aussies, scoring an unbeaten century against them during the ICC Champions Trophy in Birmingham. His ODI career bowling statistics are less impressive, but his average of 38.2 and economy rate of 6.12 don’t do justice to his talent with the ball. As he has proven at Test level, he is a capable bowler, and on his day he could get a game for England’s ODI side on his bowling alone. A rare all-rounder who is genuinely talented with both bat and ball, rather than simply competent, he essentially provides England with a 12th player, and their ODI team is much better for his presence.
The inclusion of these two significantly boosts England’s chances in the ODI series of what is so far a thoroughly unsuccessful tour. Australia is currently paying $1.50 to win the series, but with Stokes and Hales present England could present some good value at $2.50. The two teams are ranked third (Australia) and fourth (England) in ODI’s, and share exactly the same rating of 114. Clearly, they are closely matched teams, and England are every chance of challenging the Aussies. Without Stokes and Hales present, Australia’s favouritism would be justified, but with the inclusion of the two star’s into the squad the series will likely be a lot more closely fought.