Thrown an international lifeline before the T20 World Cup and encountering new challenges on Australian surfaces, Alex Hales is prepared for England's late tournament push.
Hales' inclusion was as fortuitous as it was unexpected, seemingly out of favour with the England camp, and only coming into the squad as an eleventh-hour replacement for Jonny Bairstow, who suffered a freak injury on the golf course.
Since his re-introduction, the 33-year-old has showed a level of class, underlined by a score of 84 off just 51 balls against the Australians in the build-up to the tournament, banking on Big Bash League experience and free of inhibition on a bouncy Perth pitch.
Hales also flourished with a half-century to sink New Zealand in the last encounter, though the opener admits that the surfaces in October and early November at the T20 World Cup have thrown up different challenges, perhaps forcing a re-think against the new ball.
"It's actually been a little bit different," Hales admitted.
"I think the numbers at the top of the order throughout the tournament have been probably lower than what you usually expect. They've slightly been different to what I've been used to. There's been a fair bit of swing, a bit of seaming bounce, so it's been very difficult. I had to hang in there at times and piece together a contribution the other night."
England made good ground in their World Cup campaign off the back of Hales' work, claiming a 20-run victory over New Zealand, England have both a better net run rate than Australia, and the advantage of playing a day later, knowing what they need to do to lock in a semi-final spot.
Hales feels the flexibility with the bat makes plans easier should they need to accelerate with the bat.
"I think it all comes naturally for us, especially with the layout of our squad playing an extra batter. You've got middle order is so strong, guys who can strike quite easily a 200 strike rate. I think it's a very confident batting unit, and think we'll be able to adapt to whatever tomorrow needs."
Sans Hales in 2021, England looked good value to win the T20 World Cup, only to fall to a five-wicket defeat at the hands of New Zealand.
The opener yearns to take and run with the chance of playing in a T20 World Cup semi-final, accentuated by the collective competitiveness across the tournament.
"Certainly on a personal level, to have a chance to play knockout cricket in a World Cup would be a very special feeling.
"It's a pretty tight competition, and to get through is difficult; only four out of 16 go through. So you have to beat some very good teams along the way. It would be a good achievement if we can get through, in a pretty tough group in my opinion."
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