The weight of expectation upon the shoulders of an opening batsman is always heavy, with Jonathon Trott, Adam Lyth and Moeen Ali all failing at the top of the order this year. And so far, ODI star Alex Hales has also failed to live up to expectations.
His first two innings as a test batsman have lacked both fluidity and the explosive power he is well known for. Whilst conditions in South Africa have been tricky, there is absolutely no excuse for the loose shot that ended his stand in the second innings.
Bought into the test side to provide some batting power next to the calm accumulation of Alastair Cook, Hales looked uncomfortable batting against the pace of Dale Steyn in the first innings, before edging behind for 10.
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The second innings provided flashes of his one day background with a six off the bowling of Dane Piedt, but overall it was a slow, industrious innings before frustration took its toll.
Whilst he has probably done enough to open in the second test, his performance raises the possibility that he is batting in the wrong position. Although he does open for England in limited overs cricket, he actually bats at four for county side Nottingham, whilst Nick Compton - one of the first post-Andrew Strauss experiments as an opener - is batting at three for the national side.
Pushing Hales to three would allow him to avoid the early swing of the new ball, and he can come to the field with a few runs already on the board.
All in all, there are three more tests in the series, so if England do stick with the youngster, there are plenty of opportunities for him to impress on this tour and secure a place in the side for next summer.
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