Moeen replaces Hales for warm-up game


Published: Thursday 20th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Alex Hales will be the fall guy as England assess other options at the top of the order in the first match of their World Cup winter.

England begin their unbroken schedule of one-day international cricket with a warm-up fixture against Sri Lanka A at the SSC ground on Friday.

Hales, who made his ODI debut as a power-hitting foil for Alastair Cook in last summer’s Royal London Series defeat against India, will make way for Moeen Ali to be tried alongside the captain.

It is an unexpected move by England, intent on ensuring they identify the right 50-over template in seven ODIs against Sri Lanka over the next four weeks in time for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand early next year.

Coach Peter Moores said: “At the moment, we’re trying to find a settled combination as a team.

“I think anyone who’s watched us play (will know) we haven’t played as well as we want to.

“There are certain slots up for grabs, and it’s a case of people getting a chance to go out and grab them.”

It is captain Cook who has been under pressure from many pundits, unhappy with his sub-80 ODI strike-rate.

His position at the top of the order is, however, obviously immovable – and England therefore are exploring which opening partner will suit best alongside him.

Moores added: “We’ve got to try to win this tour first. But it would be daft not to be thinking forward to the World Cup.

“We’re trying to move to be a more positive side, with both bat and ball, take every opportunity to score runs and put pressure on the opposition.

“It’s not a simple process to say ‘I’m going to walk out and whack it’.”

Since England last played, Rohit Sharma has broken new ground on the pitch – and, of course, Kevin Pietersen has had his say off it in his autobiography which last month presented his impression of a “bullying” culture in the dressing room during Andy Flower’s tenure as coach.

Moores insists England have “moved on” from sacked batsman Pietersen, and have more pressing issues.

But Rohit’s world-record 264 for India against Sri Lanka in Kolkata last week was an eye-opener for the England coach.

He said: “We saw… in that India game… Rohit Sharma started slowly, and then suddenly found freedom and played beautifully.

“We’ve got to do that. It’s not actually complicated. You’ve just got to find your way of doing it as an individual, and a team.”

The publication of Pietersen’s autobiography does not appear to have changed Moores’ opinion of him.

“I think we’ve moved on anyway,” he said. “I think that happened before.

“Kevin (then) had his view, and shared that.

“But we’ve moved on, and have plenty of (other) things to concentrate on… and we’re totally focused on what we’ve got to do for this series and moving forward to the World Cup.”

Published: Thursday 20th November 2014 by The News Editor

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