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Stokes supports Hales return with ‘shared goal’ of winning World Cup

Hales has not played for England since March 2019 after being frozen out following failed drugs tests. Eoin Morgan, captain at the time, consulted senior players and decided there had been a breakdown in trust that meant Hales should be dropped from England’s World Cup squad.

He has not been seen in internationals since, but was recalled on Wednesday in place of Jonny Bairstow, who is injured.

Stokes, who is in England’s World Cup squad, and Hales were involved in a late night brawl in Bristol in 2017. In his recent documentary, Stokes describes Hales as “my friend at the time, Alex”, suggesting they were no longer friends.

But when asked about the matter on the eve of the final Test against South Africa, Stokes said he and Hales would simply be getting on with their jobs, even if he would not be drawn on the nature of their relationship now.

Asked whether they had spoken recently, Stokes said simply: “We’ve both got the same goal, to win World Cups.

“At the end of the day, everyone’s goal is to win that World Cup for England. My goal, Alex’s goal and everyone else’s goal who is part of that squad is to win the World Cup.

“It [Bairstow] is an injury that presents an opportunity to someone else. Alex is definitely one of the best T20 players in the world and unfortunately with what happened with Jonny, we had to call another player up and Alex is definitely one of the guys that bowlers don’t want to be bowling at in the T20 format. Everyone’s goal is to win World Cups.”

Stokes said he supported Hales’ selection.

“I’ve not been in the leadership capacity in the white-ball group for however long,” he said. “I’ve obviously been resting and stuff like that.

“But when it comes down to the big moments in games and World Cup games, knockout games, you want your best players there to be taking that pressure on and he certainly is one of those.”

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