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England opener Alex Hales banned for 21 days for recreational drug use

Alex Hales

England batsman Alex Hales whose World Cup place is now under scrutiny after failing an ECB recreational drugs policy for a second time in his career, is serving a 21-day ban from cricket.

Despite being named in England’s preliminary World Cup squad last week, Hales, 30, was suspended by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Hales has missed the start of Nottinghamshire’s Royal London One-Day Cup campaign and according to the club “made himself unavailable for selection for personal reasons.”

The opener is still expected to attend England’s training camp in Cardiff this weekend.

However, trouble seems to be shadowing him after having been suspended and fined by England last year for his involvement alongside Ben Stokes in a street match outside a Bristol nightclub in September 2017.

All professional men’s cricketers in England and Wales and centrally contracted women’s players are subject to hair follicle tests at the start and end of every season that can detect substances in the system for up to three months.

A first offence is dealt with privately; a second violation has further consequences, invoking a three-week ban and a fine totalling 5% of the player’s annual salary.

If a third positive test occurs, a 12-month ban can be triggered allowing the ECB or county to cancel a player’s contract and director of England cricket, Ashley Giles would have received news of his centrally contracted player.

Players are suspended from the date they receive written confirmation of a positive result and it is yet to be established when exactly Hales received notice of his second violation.

It is believed he will have served his 21 days prior to England’s opening fixture of the summer against Ireland in Dublin on 3 May.

Having lost his place following the Bristol nightclub incident in September 2017, Hales has spent the last 18 months as the first reserve batsman.

He would have been expected to feature in the Ireland game next week with key players including Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali all rested especially with the injury list growing by the day for England, Jason Roy (back spasm) currently rested by Surrey.

Alex Hales, the ECB, PCA and Nottinghamshire Cricket Club are yet to comment.

Whether this latest misdemeanor affects his chances of featuring in the World Cup remains to be seen as selectors have until 23 May to confirm their final squad.

Nevertheless this news is the last thing for England, the ICC number 1 ranked ODI side need, so close to their opening match against South Africa on 30 May at the Oval.

JOTI KAUR

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