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Paul Nixon: Alex Hales’ Power Will Give England A Kick-Start

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Today is a very big day for English cricket and that’s why the selectors have been so safe with the squad they have chosen for the game against Scotland in Aberdeen.

There’s so much at stake in this new era with Peter Moores in charge along with Alastair Cook and it’s a game they must win – and win well. The talent of the two squads means England should hammer Scotland.

They have world-class players in their squad while some of Scotland’s players are still part-time and, particularly with our bowlers, we have shown that we should run through their batting card. But there will be more than a few nerves in the England dressing room after the winter of woe they’ve had and all of the issues around Kevin Pietersen’s departure.

To follow up the loss to the Netherlands with a game in Aberdeen, where the wicket is going to do plenty, means there will be loads of pressure for the England boys. That’s why I’d have liked them to have been a bit braver and picked someone at the top of the order who is going to play a few shots.

Alex Hales has just come off a fine t20 hundred in the World Cup yet he still can’t get in the ODI team. Yes, Ian Bell and Alastair Cook are wonderful players but they aren’t the types who can really take the game away from you in the space of five/ten overs.

Ask any bowler in the world who they would want to bowl 50 balls at in an ODI innings and I guarantee none of them would say Hales because of the power he possesses. There aren’t many English players who can find the boundary like Alex at the top of the order and that’s going to be needed in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Scores of around 300 are going to be around par and that generally means getting off to a flying start and making the most of the powerplays.  Now should really be the time to have a look at someone who plays a few more shots and give them this summer to prove their worth and Cook and Hales would work well together as a left-hand/right-hand partnership.

Michael Lumb must be wondering what more he can do after getting a classy hundred in the ODI series and then being left straight out of the squad! And even if the players who are given a licence to play shots did fall cheaply there should be enough class in the middle order in the likes of Eoin Morgan to come in and rebuild.

That’s actually when Morgan is at his best, given time to build an innings and nudge the singles like Neil Fairbrother and Graham Thorpe and then launch later in the innings. I like the look of the bowling attack and Harry Gurney simply has to get a go.

He’s been in and around the set-up while the likes of Jade Dernbach have had chance after chance and I believe he’s ready. He knows his game and his plans in one-day and t20 cricket and is quicker than a few people might think.

England have needed a left-arm paceman since Ryan Sidebottom lost his place and Harry is going to surprise a few people. I hope he does so in Aberdeen because losing this one doesn’t bear thinking about.

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