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  1. ITV Report

England cricketer Alex Hales withdrawn from World Cup squad following second disciplinary offence

Alex Hales will not play for England at the Cricket World Cup this summer after being withdrawn from the squad due to an off-field incident.

The batsman was originally named in the 15-man squad but it emerged on Friday that he has been sanctioned by the England and Wales Cricket Board for a second disciplinary offence.

It is reported that Hales was given a 21-day ban for recreational drug use, following a second failed test.

An ECB statement said: "Alex Hales has been withdrawn from all England squads ahead of the international season."

The news comes just months after Hales was suspended and fined for his part in a Bristol street fight involving international teammate Ben Stokes after a match in September 2017.

Hales will take no part in Friday's Twenty20 fixture against Ireland nor the upcoming series with Pakistan and upcoming World Cup.

Ashley Giles says the decision was taken in the best interest of the team. Credit: PA

Ashley Giles, ECB managing director of England Cricket, said: "We have thought long and hard about this decision.

"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 PCA (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 fulfil his potential as a professional cricketer."

Hales is said to be 'hurt' following his exclusion from the England squad. Credit: PA

Hales' management copy, 366 Group released a statement on Monday afternoon which criticised the treatment of their client.

The statement read: "We are hugely disappointed at the treatment of our client, Alex Hales, by the ECB following his ejection from England's preliminary World Cup squad.

"Nobody is seeking to excuse Alex's behaviour in this instance. He absolutely acknowledges and recognises he made a huge mistake."

The company say Hales' rehabilitation programme was supposed to remain private, but has now entered the public domain, adding that the batsman has fulfilled all of his commitments and the ECB have gone back on their word.

"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. He will take time to reflect on both his actions and the subsequent decisions but will receive the support from his team he deserves."

Following the conclusion of his ban, Hales will return to action for Nottinghamshire, his county team, the statement confirmed.

"While Alex is hurt, the ECB's decision does not dilute his commitment to the game and he will continue to give everything to Nottinghamshire's cause."

Alex Hales has made himself unavailable for his county side, Nottinghamshire. Credit: PA

Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have been the preferred opening pairing in the last 18 months though Hales, with 2,419 ODI runs at 37.79 and six centuries, was thought of by many as an enviable back-up option.

The ECB will name his replacement "in due course".

Hales, who last year signed a white-ball only deal with Nottinghamshire, missed the start of his county's Royal London One-Day Cup campaign earlier this month.

Nottinghamshire said the 30-year-old had "made himself unavailable for selection for personal reasons" but a spokesperson said on Friday he had been suspended for an "off-field incident".

The spokesperson added: "He will be joining the squad in preparation for next week's games and will be available for selection. Whilst the issue is not cricket related, Hales accepted that it was right that he was suspended.

"He is now fully focused on returning to cricket and is committed to working tirelessly for both Nottinghamshire and England throughout the summer."