Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bayliss Tells Hales to Prove His Worth before Sri Lanka

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bayliss Tells Hales to Prove His Worth before Sri Lanka

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Stocks in Pretoria

ENGLAND coach Trevor Bayliss has admitted Alex Hales might not be the answer to the side's opening problem and urged county batsmen to put themselves forward for selection through sheer weight of runs at the start of the summer.

Hales got off to a poor start in his debut Test series against South Africa, scoring just 136 runs across four matches at an average of 17.

He wasn't alone, with captain Alastair Cook admitting after the 280-run final-Test defeat at Centurion that Nick Compton and James Taylor were also fighting for their futures after disappointing series.

It is the case of Hales, though, that is most acute, especially as he is the eighth opening partner Cook has had since the retirement of former captain Andrew Strauss in 2012. "He's one of the guys who would be disappointed how he's gone in this series," said Bayliss. "I thought the first couple of games, even though he didn't score a lot of runs, he looked quite comfortable at the crease and he looked like he belonged. "He's one of those guys who has shown what he can do at this level. Whether it is as an opener or somewhere else in the order, he certainly has a lot of talent. And he's not the only one. They are the best players we have but it is also a sign to everyone else in county cricket that, if I come out and score runs early in the season, there are possibilities there."

Asked if that meant Hales, Compton and Taylor would need to score big runs early in the County Championship to secure their places in the first Test series of the summer against Sri Lanka, Bayliss said: "Exactly. There are three, four, five matches before that First Test against Sri Lanka. Those matches will be very important for some of those players."

Bayliss also fired a warning shot across the bows of Jonny Bairstow, who despite excelling with the bat against South Africa dropped seven catches to show he has a log way to go before he can consider himself a topclass international wicketkeeper. …

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