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Cricket news - 'Hales was given assurance that suspension won't affect World Cup spot'

Alex Hales has been suspended from all England squads due to his drugs ban

Following Alex Hales's removal from the England squad, the management company representing the top-order batsman has claimed he was told by senior members of the ECB that his World Cup chances would not be affected by his 21-day suspension for a second recreational drugs test failure.

A report in The Guardian on Friday (April 26) revealed that Hales had been suspended from playing for 21 days after failing a second recreational drugs test, conducted as part of routine pre-season tests which all professional male players must take. The ECB refused to comment on the matter at the time but then announced today (April 29) that Hales was being withdrawn from England duty this summer.

The decision was made by Managing Director of England men's cricket, Ashley Giles, citing concerns for the team environment. Hales has been withdrawn from England's provisional World Cup squad as well as the parties for the upcoming matches against Ireland and Pakistan.

"We have thought long and hard about this decision," Giles said. "We have worked hard to create the right environment around the England team and need to consider what is in the best interests of the team, to ensure they are free from any distractions and able to focus on being successful on the pitch.

"I want to make it clear this is not the end of Alex's career as an England player. The ECB and the Professional Cricketers' Association will continue to aid Alex and work alongside his county club Nottinghamshire to give him the support he needs, to help him fulfill his potential as a professional cricketer."

However, Hales's management team issued a strongly-worded statement claiming that the 30-year old was given assurances that his World Cup place would not be in danger under the ECB's guidelines. "Nobody is seeking to excuse Alex's behaviour in this instance," the statement said. "He absolutely acknowledges and recognises he made a huge mistake.

"The ECB insisted on Alex taking certain rehabilitation measures following his suspension... at every stage, Alex fulfilled his obligations and both he and his representatives were given assurances that any suspension - again under the ECB's guidelines - could not affect his selection for the World Cup.

"It is unfortunate that a confidential matter made it to the public arena but, even before the publication of the story, Alex had again spoken to key members of the England organisation to express his regret and contrition. At that time, he again took away the message his World Cup place would be judged on playing merit.

"The fact all those assurances seem to have been rendered meaningless has understandably left Alex devastated. Until the matter became public, the ECB had fully observed their own process and guidelines and given Alex the support and guidance laid out in those regulations. It is now disappointing to learn these guidelines seem to have been disregarded while, in this instance, player welfare would also appear to be low on their list of priorities."

The indiscretion is the latest in a number of issues which have dogged Hales in recent times. He was involved in the street fight in Bristol in 2017 which saw Ben Stokes appear in court last July and for which Hales was given a suspension and fine. He also failed a first test for recreational drug use which has only become apparent now. In January, Giles said he would adopt a tough stance on poor player behaviour and the decision to axe Hales has been his opening salvo in that regard.

Hales's place in the England squad for the one-off ODI against Ireland and the IT20 against Pakistan has been taken by Ben Duckett while Dawid Malan has also been called-up as cover for Jason Roy who has a back spasm.

Hampshire captain James Vince has replaced Hales in the squad for the five-match ODI series against Pakistan and is favourite to replace him in England's World Cup squad.

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