London: England batsman Alex Hales is serving a suspension for an ‘off-field’ incident reported to involve recreational drug use.
A Guardian report on Friday claimed Hales, named last week in England’s preliminary World Cup squad, is serving a 21-day ban from cricket for the drug incident.
The 30-year-old has been sanctioned under the England and Wales Cricket Board’s disciplinary policy for a second time, according to the report.
A spokesman for Hales on Friday confirmed the Nottinghamshire batsman had been suspended “following an off-field incident last year”.
The ban is a blow for Hales, who has been selected in the England squad for the forthcoming one-day series against Pakistan ahead of the World Cup.
Hales will still be involved with England’s training camp in Cardiff this weekend, with the team’s first one-day match of the summer coming against Ireland in Dublin next Friday.
“He will be joining the squad in preparation for next week’s games and will be available for selection,” the spokesman said.
“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. No further comment will be made on this issue.”
An ECB spokesperson said: “We have a duty of confidentiality, therefore we are unable to provide any further comment.”
Nottinghamshire issued a statement last week confirming Hales had “made himself unavailable for selection for personal reasons”, and “no timetable has been set for his return to action”.
As a consequence, Hales missed the start of the national One-Day Cup campaign.
Last year, Hales was suspended and fined by the ECB following his involvement with Ben Stokes in an incident outside a Bristol nightclub during September 2017.
Stokes was subsequently found not guilty of affray following a six-day trial at Bristol Crown Court.
The drugs violation is believed to have been detected after Hales underwent a hair follicle test, which all professional cricketers have at the start and finish of every season
For a first drugs offence, which is treated as a health and welfare issue, players are offered advice and support with only the county director of cricket being notified.
A second violation can invoke a three-week ban and a five percent fine of the player’s annual salary, at which point the player’s county is informed, as well as the ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, and PCA chief executive, David Leatherdale.
Hales could be a valuable member of Eoin Morgan’s England side as they attempt to win their first 50-over World Cup.
Hales memorably hit 147 from 92 balls when England scored a record 481-6 in a win against Australia at Trent Bridge last year.