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I’ve got big boots to fill: Alex Hales on replacing David Warner at Sunrisers Hyderabad

The circumstances under which I’m here are unfortunate and I’ve got big boots to fill, Alex Hales says in this interview about replacing David Warner at Sunrisers Hyderabad

cricket Updated: Apr 09, 2018 15:08 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hyderabad
IPL 2018,Indian Premier League,Alex Hales
Alex Hales has been roped in as replacement for David Warner by Sunrisers Hyderabad.(Sunrisers Hyderabad)

He is yet to play a game in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and if not for the ugly ball-tampering saga that unfolded in South Africa, Alex Hales might have had to wait another season. However, unlike other ‘debutants’, the pressure is huge on the Englishman as he has been roped in to replace David Warner — the southpaw who topped the batting charts twice in the past three years.

It won’t be the first time that such an opportunity has come his way though. Nearly a month back, an injury to Jason Roy had thrown open the door for his comeback to the national ODI squad. A well-timed 61 and a 155-run stand for the opening wicket not just ensured an English victory over Kiwis, it also gave Hales an opportunity to make a statement given that he has gone down the pecking order.

READ | Mayank Markande revels in stunning IPL debut for Mumbai Indians

In a candid chat on Sunday, Hales spoke on a number of issues, including the ball-tampering row, his role at Sunrisers and what it means to replace Davis Warner in the side.

Excerpts:

How does it feel like to be a part of the Indian Premier League despite not being selected by any franchise first up?

It’s still amazing to be a part of it. It’s going to be my first full season in the IPL. I was here as a replacement for Aaron Finch a few years ago but never got to play. So to be here from the start is pretty exciting. Obviously, the circumstances under which I’m here are unfortunate and I’ve got big boots to fill. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Well, an Aussie loss is an English gain. Filling in David Warner’s shoes, how big do you feel this responsibility is for you?

Yes it’s a big one but the biggest thing is that I enjoy it. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. That pressure’s going to be there from external sources. So the important thing is enjoying it, training hard and hoping to be part of a successful franchise and carrying on with what they’ve done. The biggest thing for me is not overthinking things too much and just enjoying it.

READ | Nitish Rana wants to bowl more for Knight Riders after scalping Virat Kohli’s big wicket

Also, your thoughts on the ball tampering saga…

It’s obviously disappointing. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes and it’s been dealt with Cricket Australia so I’m actually pretty limited on what I can say regarding the issue. It’s a shame. It’s a shame for Sunrisers to lose their captain but no doubt he’ll be back in the following years.

You were snubbed in the auctions. How difficult was it to stay motivated?

I don’t think it’s difficult to stay motivated. I still had a couple of fixtures for England, the Pakistan Super League. So I kept myself busy, was playing a lot of cricket. When I got back home, it’s amazing how quickly things can change in cricket. You’re always replacing players and upcoming people get niggles here and there; it’s a very long tournament. The important thing for me was to stay fit and keep practicing when I got back to England and you never know what might come along in the future.

READ | IPL 2018: Rajasthan Royals’ skipper Ajinkya Rahane aims to lead by example

Do you feel your decision to move away from red ball cricket has affected your chances?

I’m not sure to be honest. You’re probably asking the wrong guy. If you look around the people who weren’t picked up are incredible players. Martin Guptill is one of them, Hashim Amla again… Every year there are names where people go like ‘Wow! How is this guy not picked up’… Joe Root. He can bowl off-spin as well and he would have been a great pick-up so… There’s always class players who are not picked up. As I said, things can change quickly and I’ve got a chance. I’ll try and do as well as I can and hopefully not be in that situation again.

What do you see your role to be in this SRH camp?

We don’t know yet the team for tomorrow. I guess when and if I get an opportunity I’ll just score as many runs as possible. That’s the role of an opening batter. To assess conditions, figure out what a good score is as quickly as possible and communicate that to the team.

READ |IPL 2018: Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody wants players to play naturally

What did you learn from your stint with Mumbai Indians?

The pressure is immense to play in front of packed houses and being watched by hundreds and millions around the world. You can carry the use of international cricket but something about over here just makes that very special. Something that we don’t get back home… Cricket being the main sport in India, everyone’s passionate and the pressure comes without anything. I learnt that you got to deal with it if you’re to succeed.

Is T20 your favourite format?

Ah yes, this is my favourite format of the game. I just think this most suits my game; the explosive feeling that you get at the top of the order and also when you get yourself in, a feeling of knowing you can take a bowler down is something that I enjoy very much.

Regarding the Bristol incident, how difficult is it mentally for a cricketer to regain his composure after off-field incidents became a distraction?

It can be. It’s up to us as individuals to not put ourselves in that situation, be as professional as one can, on and off the field. I’ve learnt a lot from that Bristol incident… Put it behind me. Stokesy still, ongoing… But in terms of cricket I’ve learnt that the eye is always on you as a professional sportsman. Whether you’re in a bar or a restaurant, there’s always people who know who you are so it’s important you conduct yourself professionally both when you’re playing cricket and away from it.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 14:44 IST