ALEX HALES has been told by captain Eoin Morgan it is still too soon for him to make an England comeback.
It means batsman Hales will not be among the 40-plus players invited by England in the next few days for net sessions.
Morgan says trust has not been fully repaired after Hales’ two positive tests for recreational drugs which ‘could have cost us four years’ of hard work’.
It will be a shattering blow for Hales, 31, who insists he has learned from his mistakes and matured.
But at least Morgan insists the door is not closed.
White-ball skipper Morgan said: “I’ve spoken to Alex. I see an avenue for him to play for England again but the only healer is time when there’s a breakdown of trust.
“It’s only been 12 or 13 months since the incident, which could have cost us four years’ hard work.
“On the cusp of a World Cup, the huge breakdown in trust between him and the players was dramatic given the build-up over the previous four years.
“Alex is in a unique position. It’s obviously not about performance. He is a fantastic player.
“But playing cricket for England is about on and off the field, values we do our best to adhere to and Alex showed disregard for them.
“Hopefully, an opportunity will present itself for him down the line.”
Notts batsman Hales was in prolific form in Australia’s Big Bash and the Pakistan Super League during the winter and his destructive ability with the willow has never been in doubt.
He received backing last week from England all-rounder Chris Woakes, who claimed most players would have no problems if Hales returned.
But Morgan is big on trust and team ethics and says Hales’ return will be judged on feel rather than any set date.
He said: “When we speak about trust, it’s a complete feeling.
“And it’s demonstrated by things you say you’re going to do and following through with that.
“The timeline for every player in our group will be different.
“But we’ll continue to ask everyone how they feel about the situation and whether it will be detrimental if Alex comes back in.”
Morgan, 33, has already committed to leading England in the next two Twenty20 World Cup campaigns and now says he might still be in charge for the defence of the 50-over trophy in India in 2023.
This year’s T20 event in Australia in October looks certain to be postponed but another tournament is scheduled for India in 2021.
Morgan will be 36 in 2023 but, so highly is he regarded by England, he would remain unopposed as leader as long as his form and fitness remains.
He explained: “I think a lot will depend on my body. If my back continues to get better, yes, that could be a chance.
“If it continues to deteriorate, you can’t look past the next two T20 World Cups.
“I think a lot of players will benefit from this break. It’s not a physical break but it’s a complete mental refresh.
“My ambition is still to play the next two T20 World Cups.
“I’ve reached the stage where I want to pick up a bat again.
“I’m ready to go although that won’t happen for the one-day players for a few weeks.
“I’ve even started looking for my cricket kit — I had no idea where it was!”
l Eoin Morgan was speaking to mark Chance to Shine’s 15th anniversary. They have reached five million children in 16,500 schools.