Rob Key talks Alex Hales, Michael Lumb and England's ODI series with New Zealand
Last Updated: February 15, 2013 11:08am
Alex Hales could soon be a permanent fixture in England's 50-over batting line-up.
That's the view of Kent star Rob Key after watching Hales bludgeon 80 off 42 deliveries as England won the third T20I against New Zealand in Wellington by 10 wickets to seize the series 2-1.
The Nottinghamshire stroke-maker, 24, has yet to play a one-day international, but has now recorded five half centuries in his 17 T20Is, with a top score of 99 against the West Indies in 2012.
Hales also showcased his ability in this winter's Big Bash in Australia when he smacked a quick-fire 89 off 52 balls on his maiden appearance for the Melbourne Renegades - and Key reckons the right-hander has a very promising future.
"Hales has a very good technique and is not an out-and-out slogger, and is announcing himself as an international player."
"He is confirming that he is a very good batsman and you wonder whether England will start looking at getting him in the 50-over team," Key said of Hales on Sky Sports HD.
"He has a very good technique and is not an out-and-out slogger, scores runs in four-day cricket for Nottinghamshire and is announcing himself as an international player, so at some point you think he will get a run.
"You also think he may be a potential IPL star; not a lot of English players get picked up for that tournament but when you look at how he did in the Big Bash and innings like the one today (Friday), that's what tends to attract the IPL franchises.
"He has plenty of time to do that, but now he should be concentrating on being an England player in all formats."
Hales and opening partner Michael Lumb (53 off 34) reeled off the target of 140 set by New Zealand with 44 balls to spare, smashing a combined nine sixes and 10 fours at the Westpac Stadium.
Key praised the way Hales responded to a sluggish start to his knock to fire England - who won the first T20I in Auckland before losing the second in Hamilton - to victory, but also saluted Lumb's display of ruthless boundary hitting.
"You thought at the start that Hales was really struggling because his bat wasn't coming down straight and there were two ways he could go: he could hang around or go for it," said Key.
"He thought: ''I'm going to have a crack here' and guys like Ian Butler and Mitchell McClenaghan, who bowled so well in the last game, went the journey; every ball looked like it was going to go for four or six, and some of them were going a long way.
"Hales put the bowlers under so much pressure and it didn't matter where they bowled it; if they pitched it up he hit it, he was quick on the short ball, too, and when the dew became a factor late in the evening and the ball skidded on, batting became a dream for him."
On Lumb, Key said: "This was the first time people have seen what Lumb is capable of outside of county cricket; he has played nice little cameos but in this game he showed you how clean a hitter he was.
"He took the pressure off Hales because he was hitting the ball well and played well against spin; he reminds me of Marcus Trescothick and Matthew Hayden in that he can just stand at the crease and hit the ball over the outfield without really trying."
England, who rose from sixth to fourth in the T20 rankings after their triumph in Wellington, begin their three-match one-day series against the Kiwis in Hamilton on Sunday - a duel you can see live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
Key believes the tourists will enter the 50-over fixtures as favourites, but says the paucity of play their premier batsmen have experienced recently, coupled with New Zealand's love of the format, could make the clashes close.
"England are the stronger side on paper but New Zealand will fancy themselves most in the 50-over games, something they have prided themselves on over the years," added Key, who figured in five ODIs for England.
"They haven't got the bowlers with an X-factor who can get lots of wickets in Test cricket but in one-day cricket they can restrict you from scoring runs by bowling with the pace off and using their good spinners.
"Plus, the heartbeat of the England batting line-up - Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott - have not had a lot of cricket."
Click here for Nick Knight's take on England's T20 series with New Zealand.