England captain Eoin Morgan scolded Alex Hales for showing “complete disregard” for team values and revealed a meeting of senior players sealed the batsman’s removal from the World Cup squad.
Hales was due to feature in this summer’s tournament on home soil until newspaper reports that the 30-year-old was serving a 21-day ban after twice testing positive for recreational drugs.
Morgan, head coach Trevor Bayliss and national selector Ed Smith had all been kept in the dark about those developments, with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s guidelines binding the organisation’s hands.
Only the chief medical officer Dr Nick Peirce, managing director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles and chief executive Tom Harrison had been informed of Hales’ circumstances and were bound by a duty of confidentiality not to share the information.
However, once the team became aware, an ad-hoc committee of players convened by Morgan made it clear Hales would have to go.
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“Unfortunately Alex’s actions have shown complete disregard for those (team) values,” said a visibly seething Morgan, ostensibly appearing to preview Friday’s one-day international against Ireland.
“This has created a lack of trust between Alex and the team. On Saturday we got together as a group of senior players to discuss the effect the news coming out would have on the team and the culture.
“We all agreed the best decision for the team was for Alex to be deselected. I relayed this to Ashley Giles because we don’t have final say, I can only give the view in the changing room and how guys feel.”
England have placed great store of their professionalism and discipline in the past year, a direct response to a late night incident in Bristol that eventually saw Ben Stokes cleared in crown court on a charge of affray and the messy Ashes tour which followed in 2017/18.
Hales had been questioned under caution but never arrested following events in Bristol, but Morgan left no doubt the 30-year-old’s recent conduct had failed to reach the required standards.
“We’ve worked extremely hard on our culture in the last 18 months since the Bristol incident,” said Morgan.
“It really did open our eyes to ourselves, not just being judged as performers but how we are as role models who really need to step up and recognise that’s a huge part of our job.
“I was certainly one guy who texted him after the first game he missed for Notts, asking how he was and if he needed any support or help. He assured me everything was fine and there was no concern and that he would see me at (the training camp) Cardiff."
“When the news broke the day before we met in Cardiff, it left me to think about how this would affect the team and the culture in particular.
“We will need at least 15 men to win the World Cup and, whatever way Alex would have dealt with it, the other 14 people would have been dragged down and that would have been quite a weight taken forward.
“I don’t think we have cast him adrift…(but) to deselect him we felt was the best decision simply because he did not adhere to everything that we have been working towards for a very long time.”
Morgan may not have been able to hide his frustration at an incident which has cast unwanted shade on the team’s preparations but declared himself content with the way the potentially damaging issue had been resolved.
“I wasn’t in the meeting when he was told. I’ve not spoken to him since,” he said of Hales.
“But the team have responded well, everyone is happy with the decision we’ve made. I think they (the ECB) have a duty of care to the player, his health and the position that he is in. They respected that process, adhered to the protocol and did everything they were supposed to do.”