Alex Hales, one of the key members of the England cricket team, has been withdrawn from the preliminary squad for the upcoming five-match series against Pakistan and also for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 beginning on May 30. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed in a statement that Hales was withdrawn from the squad. "The decision has been taken by the ECB managing director of England men’s cricket and the England national cricket selectors, having considered what is in the best interests of the England team. Consideration was given to creating the right environment within the team and ensuring that there are no unnecessary distractions and that the team is in the best position to succeed going into this crucial period," the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement.
Hales had raised a few eyebrows when he announced that he was taking a break from cricket during the Royal London Cup. However, it has now emerged that Hales is serving a 21-day suspension for a failed drugs test. In a report in The Guardian, Hales has been suspended for 21 days for failing a drug test. The right-hander was found to be at variance with England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) recreational drugs policy for the second time in his career. The opener is understood to have tested positive for a recreational drug in recent weeks and his selection into the provisional squad means the English selectors were not aware of transgression.
Hales was suspended and fined by England last year after he and Ben Stokes were involved in a street fight outside a Bristol nightclub in September 2017. Hales drugs violation was detected after he underwent a routine hair follicle test, which all professional cricketers in England are required to undergo at the start and end of every season. The test can detect substances in the system for up to three months. This has put Hales’ World Cup place in jeopardy and this has already mounted England’s woes in their build-up to the World Cup which will involve a five-match series against Pakistan.
According to the rules of the England and Wales Cricket Board, players that fail a recreational drug test for the first time are not named, with the matter dealt with internally by the ECB and the Professional Cricketers's Association who in turn offer rehabilitative support. Once a test is failed for a second time, an automatic three-week ban comes into effect from the date the player is informed of the results, along with a fine of five per-cent of their annual salary. A third failed test and a player could have his domestic and international contract terminated immediately.
England begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on May 30 at The Oval and the hosts will be aiming to break their World Cup jinx, with England hosting the World Cup for the fifth time and the first since 1999.