Hales was back in England training gear for the first time since a pre-2019 World Cup camp when he arrived in Pakistan, carrying a dartboard in his hand luggage as he prepared to move on three weeks in close company with old and new teammates under tight security conditions in Karachi and Lahore.
Thursday marked exactly two weeks since he spoke to Buttler on the phone about his continued exclusion from England training after learning he would not be part of the Pakistan tour or World Cup squads that were to be announced.
But Bairstow’s ankle injury – suffered slipping at Pannal Golf Club near Harrogate as England chief executive Rob Key told the press he would open with Buttler at the World Cup – opened up the door to the recall of Hales and, after discussions with senior players. over the next few days, the interim selection committee made a unanimous decision to bring Hales back into the fold.
“Originally we thought the best option was Jonny at the top of the command as that is arguably his best position in T20 cricket,” Buttler explained in Karachi on Thursday, speaking to media on tour after his talk. arrival official press. “But with his freak injury, it gave an opportunity for someone to come in.
“It was literally when Keysy broke the news to you that he was going to open up and talk about his credentials. [that Bairstow was injured]. As soon as he finished talking to you, I got a message that Jonny had injured his leg. I was hoping it wasn’t as bad as it turned out to be. He obviously had such a brilliant summer, so he will be greatly missed, but then the opportunity is given to someone else.
“I spoke to a lot of senior players to make sure no one would have a problem with Alex returning to the team if we wanted to select him. No one had a problem. He was obviously in excellent We know what a talented player he is and he has also gained a lot of experience since he last played for England.
“He’s played for many franchises and had a lot of success here at PSL. Looking ahead to the World Cup, his Big Bash record is fantastic. [1857 runs, 33.16 average, 151.34 strike rate]. Australia is a place where he has done well, so he seemed the obvious choice.”
But Morgan’s retirement from international cricket in June appeared to open the door for Hals to return, which materialized when his recall was confirmed while on holiday in South Africa last week.
“He messaged me asking if it would be possible to discuss why he was not selected,” Buttler said. “I spoke to him then: we had a good conversation and I explained the reasons why he didn’t get the green light. Of course he was disappointed with that… that’s exactly it, and how It should be.Very quickly, however, things changed and it became clear that there would be someone from the next group of players chosen to replace him.
“There’s been a lot of water under the bridge I think. It’s been a long time and I’m sure Alex is a different person. He’s spent some time outside the team and it’s great that he has performed well and came back strong. . We can’t wait to see him play again in an England shirt.”
In his discussions with the senior players, Buttler added: “I think it was important. It’s no secret that when Alex was left out of the 2019 World Cup squad, Eoin does the same kind of thing He’s spoken to a lot of senior players, all the coaching staff and as a team I think it’s important that you give responsibility to the other guys and get opinions .
“I just wanted to check. I had my own opinion, but I just wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page. Everyone was, so that’s great. I just can’t wait to see him back in and around the band. It won’t be long before Moeen Ali takes the mick off him again and he’ll be fine.
“It was a really tough phone call,” he said. “But one of the big things I said to him was ‘that doesn’t mean it’s the end – it’s not terminal’. We know what a brilliant player he is when he’s on the song…we talked about a plan for him to get back to this point.”
Buttler’s own role in the early stages of the tour will be limited by the calf injury he suffered during the Hundred, but he said it was important for him to be part of England’s first trip to the Pakistan since 2005. Games or not, I felt there would be a lot of value in me being here,” he said.
“[I will] take it as I see it and build it very slowly. It is an injury that is not serious, but has a risk of recurrence. You don’t want to push too soon, especially with what lies ahead: we still have games in Australia and warm-up games so there’s no desperate need to be as fit as possible.
“If I was available for the last couple it would be a minute best case scenario. It might happen sooner than that; it might not at all. The picture will become clearer in about a week. I’m looking forward to it to be stuck in it.”
Matt Roller is associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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