As revealed exclusively to Members yesterday, Alex Hales, one of the world’s most exciting T20 opening batsmen, will return to Sydney Thunder this summer to take strike in the KFC Big Bash League’s milestone 10th season.
The 31-year-old’s debut season for Thunder in 2019-20 is remembered as a smash hit. His daring style of play tormented opposition attacks as he compiled a total of 576 runs to finish as the league’s second highest runscorer.
He not only thrilled cricket lovers across Australia with six scintillating innings of 50 runs or more, but he also kept statisticians busy by hammering 59 boundaries and clearing 23 sixes to record a formidable strike rate of 146.93.
Hales, who was a member of the triumphant Notts Outlaws outfit that seized England’s T20 Vitality Blast crown by beating Surrey earlier this week, said he had good reason to be excited about returning to Thunder on a new one-year-deal.
“I’m returning to Sydney, and I’m absolutely buzzing for it – I can’t wait!” enthused Hales. “Playing for Sydney Thunder means a hell of a lot to me.
“To get the chance to come back is exciting because we’re at the start of something... I think the next two-to-three years is going to very special for Sydney Thunder as a franchise. I really believe that, and to know I’m coming back to that means a lot.”
Hales revealed one prized memory he took from BBL|09 was how the entire Shane Bond-coached squad combined to defy critics who’d dismissed Thunder as a force before a ball had even been bowled.
“A lot of people had written us off as no chance at the start of the season, but we performed extremely well and won some fantastic games,” he said. “So, when I look back on last season, I think it was a very successful one for us – as a very young and talented squad - to make the finals.”
Hales, who represented England in each of cricket’s three formats, said he was excited to be resuming his partnership with Usman Khawaja, a teammate who he praised for being a “calming influence” in even the most adrenaline-charged moments of a T20 match.
“Usman and I are different players – and I think that’s important for an opening pair,” said Hales. “It means bowlers need to bowl at different lengths and different areas, and [we] score at a different tempo.
“On top of all that, I think the right hand/left hand combination worked really well. Usman is also very calm guy too, a very calm influence, and that’s very important in T20.”
Thunder coach Shane Bond described the re-signing of Hales as a coup for the club because he proved last season that he was more than a star cricketer.
“There’s a whole range of reasons to be excited about Alex extending his contract – and they’re exactly why we signed him in the first place,” said Bond. “He is a great player who is available for the entire tournament.
“He played brilliantly for us last year, but he was brilliant on-and-off the field. He was hugely popular with the players and support staff - and that’s how Alex is viewed wherever he plays.
“We have some very talented players in our squad, and it is important to have those professionals, like Alex, around so they can learn off them as well.
“Everyone in the team is looking forward to having him back, he’s a brilliant bloke.”
Sydney Thunder is set to open its tenth KFC BBL campaign on 5 December 2020 against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG, before playing its first game at Sydney Showground Stadium on 8 December 2020.
Memberships are now on sale for this summer, starting from $40 and giving Members access to a host of new benefits and exclusive discounts.
Sydney Thunder BBL Squad
Head Coach: Shane Bond
Contracted for BBL|10: Callum Ferguson (C), Jonathan Cook, Ben Cutting, Oliver Davies, Brendan Doggett, Matthew Gilkes, Chris Green, Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja, Nathan McAndrew, Arjun Nair, Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, Chris Tremain