England’s natural game is to attack, says Hales

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Alex Hales believes England can become Twenty20 world-beaters in India, as long as they stick to what they do best.

Hales’s brilliant white-ball form was not enough to avoid an agonising 3-2 one-day international series defeat to South Africa, after the hosts recovered from 2-0 down over the past week.

England were bowled out, despite Hales’s century, in only 45 overs of Sunday’s Cape Town decider and were then unsurprisingly unable to defend 236.

After that chastening outcome, some will doubtless call for Eoin Morgan’s limited-overs team to temper their adventure when conditions dictate – as they did, perhaps, on a taxing surface at Newlands.

Hales insists it will be folly, though, to stray away from the attacking intent that has served England so well in their dramatic white-ball improvement since an embarrassingly early exit from last year’s World Cup.

“The way we’ve played in the last year, we’re going to have to take the rough with the smooth,” said the opener, who capped a remarkable sequence of five successive fifties through the ODI series with his second century in that format.

“Sometimes, we are going to make sloppy mistakes like we did, but I still think we’ve done some pretty good stuff over the last year, and we’ve got to stick to our basics.

“If you look at the guys you’ve got in your squad, it’s everyone’s natural game to play that way.

“Sometimes we are going to make mistakes and people will point fingers, but we’ve still got to stay true to ourselves.”

After two Twenty20s against South Africa, England will head home briefly before flying to Mumbai for the start of the ICC World Twenty20 early next month.

It is there that they will be tested and judged most sternly, and Hales is optimistic.

Asked if Morgan’s team can win only the second global trophy in England’s history, he said: “I don’t see why not.

“It’s definitely the best side I’ve been involved with in Twenty20, with a hell of lot of young ball-strikers and a good bowling attack as well.

“I think it’s a really exciting time with the talent and firepower we have in our squad, people who can hit sixes all the way down to No 11.

“I think we’ve got a good chance.”

Hales’s ODI series aggregate of 383 runs at 76.60, on his return to his favoured limited-overs formats, followed a paltry output in his maiden Test series here.

The 27-year-old added: “I was disappointed not to score anywhere near the number of runs I’d have liked (in the Tests).

“It was obviously my first ever appearance in a Test shirt, coming into tough conditions to open the batting against one of the best bowling attacks in the world.”

England’s search for a successful opening partner for Test captain Alastair Cook could conceivably move on yet again for the first series of the summer, against Sri Lanka in May.

Hales said: “I hope they stick with me a bit.

“I’d love to get another crack at it and show people I can play.”

He will do things differently if he is, as seems likely, granted a second chance.

“It was as tough as I thought it was going to be,” he said.

“I didn’t feel out of my depth at all. I guess I kept getting myself out, soft dismissals, mainly outside off stump.

“It’s something I’ll have to go away and work on ... and I do feel ready for the challenge.”

He, like England, must play to his strengths – whatever colour the ball.

“I think maybe I got caught in two minds, whether to attack or defend, and that was probably my downfall,” he said.

“I still think what I did leading into the series was right, working on leaving well.

“I was just disappointed I went away from my game plan a little bit during the Tests.”

Before then, of course, Hales will be in his more accustomed role as England try to extend a six-match Twenty20 winning streak stretching back to September 2014, and including a 3-0 series success over Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

He has already banked a Twenty20 hundred, against Sri Lanka in Chittagong in the previous global tournament two years ago, and senses he just might be able to double up soon.

“I feel in good enough touch,” he said. “The pitches we play on out here should lead to some high-scoring games so if I get myself in, I hope I can go big.”

Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Marsh took two wickets apiece on day four as Australia wrapped up an innings-and-52-run first Test victory over New Zealand in Wellington.

Henry Nicholls (59) hit a maiden Test 50 on debut for the hosts but only some late order hitting delayed the inevitable.

Spinner Lyon finished with 4-91 as New Zealand were dismissed for 327 shortly after lunch at the Basin Reserve.

After captain Brendon McCullum fell to the final ball of day three, it was always going to be a tough task for the Black Caps after they resumed on 178-4.