Monday, October 3, 2022

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England manager Matthew Mott insists Ben Stokes and Alex Hales don’t have to be ‘best friends’

England manager Matthew Mott says Ben Stokes and Alex Hales don’t have to be close friends for their team to achieve their winter goal of becoming double world champions.

When questioned recently, Test captain Stokes refused to elaborate on his relationship with the recalled Hales, who was with him on the night of his Bristol brawl in 2017 and then dropped out of the 2019 World Cup squad for failing to join his Teammates apologized for having failed a drug test.

Despite this checkered history, however, Mott claimed Hales was “contrite” and “shown that he is trying to learn from his experiences” after the end of his three-and-a-half-year international exile.

“Probably the most important call for me was when I called Trevor Bayliss and asked if he had any views as he was obviously a coach at the time and had worked with him at Sydney Thunder,” Mott said.

“He said he had no problem with him at all, he made mistakes but he’s trying to get better and for me that was it. Nobody’s perfect, I’m certainly not but when he’s trying to get better and he’s the best player, then we can work around that.

“And as far as that (Stokes) relationship goes, they might not be best friends, and that’s okay, you work with colleagues all the time who aren’t your best friends, but you can work with them if you.” have a common goal.

“Ben said it, he wants to win world cups, Alex wants it too, we all want it, so try to pick the best players and if they end up becoming good friends again that’s great, if not as long as they do towards the goal of winning together, that’s how teams work.”

Australia’s Mott has had to watch from the sidelines in recent weeks as his close friend Brendon McCullum clinches back-to-back victories in the Test series.

His own path since the pair’s appointment earlier in the summer has been a lot rockier – starting with a cruise in the Netherlands but being winless in four white ball campaigns against India and South Africa respectively – but insists there is a desire to do so complement rather than compete with his dual head coach.

“Rather than being jealous of it, it actually inspired me to be myself as a coach and to work with the people around me,” Mott said.

“Rather than comparing us to the Test team I would like us to be seen as English cricket and I think Brendon feels a lot like that.”

Stokes will strengthen the squad once it arrives in Australia next month as England look to become the first team in history to hold both a one-day and T20 world title.

And when the seven-game series against Pakistan opens here in Karachi on Tuesday night, a number of players will be absent.

Jos Buttler, the white-ball captain, is on the historic tour but, at best, will not be there until the end of the trip due to a calf strain, while neither Mark Wood nor Chris Woakes – two of the tacklers selected for the World Cup – are – is being held off until the Lahore leg of the Games after long-term injuries.

Surrey’s left arm Reece Topley arrived with ankle pain and underwent a general fitness test at floodlights last night (Saturday) meaning the pace attack for Pakistan’s eighth T20 at the National Stadium is almost self-selecting – their first seven all ended in victories .

Yesterday’s training threw up another injury problem. Luckily, however, it was assistant coach Richard Dawson who was helped off the field with a hip problem that arose during field practice.

In Buttler’s absence, Mott confirmed Phil Salt as the “obvious choice at this point” to become England’s fifth wicketkeeper in 2022. Ben Duckett is the opposing option.

Whoever takes the field this week will be a patchwork squad tasked with adding some momentum to October’s main event. However, Mott emphasized that with this short-term expectation comes a counterweight.

“If we want to build a side that can compete with what we’ve seen in recent years, we have to regenerate and get new blood coming in, reward performance as much as possible but also look to the future,” he said.

“So this selection took about three or four hours to go through. It was strategic and not just because of this series. It was about the World Cup and also about the next three to four years. Time will tell, but I think there are players here that will be generational players.

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