Tuesday, 21st September 2021

ECB drugs policy could be reviewed after Hales saga

The England and Wales Cricket Board is likely to review its policy on recreational drugs as the fallout from Alex Hales’ failed tests continues.

Hales has been removed from all England squads, including the provisional 15 for this summer’s World Cup, after recording two positive results.

The way in which the news emerged, and the 30-year-old’s removal was handled, has attracted criticism but Press Association Sport understands the governing body felt bound by its guidelines, which are now set to be assessed.

Current procedures treat recreational drug alerts as a welfare rather than a disciplinary issue and allow only three individuals – the ECB’s chief medical officer, chief executive Tom Harrison and Ashley Giles, managing director of men’s cricket – to be made aware of the results.

With national selector Ed Smith and head coach Trevor Bayliss among those in the dark, Hales was named in the preliminary World Cup squad earlier this month and invited to a training camp in Cardiff despite being in the midst of a 21-day ban.

After the news broke in the Guardian, and all members of team England were subsequently briefed, the decision was then made to remove Hales from all international squads. That left the player’s management company “hugely disappointed”, with claims that assurances over his World Cup place were “rendered meaningless”.

England coach Trevor Bayliss was not made aware of Hales' failed tests
England coach Trevor Bayliss was not made aware of Hales’ failed tests (David Daves/PA)

Hales had been offered extensive pastoral support and advice, which will remain available, but some at the ECB are understood to feel the current policy, though well-intentioned, is potentially unfit for purpose.

The ECB may now look to liaise with the Professional Cricketers’ Association to review whether it is robust enough and whether a wider circle of people should be informed of failed tests.

England face Ireland in their first game of the summer, in Malahide on Friday, with Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett available after being added to the squad as batting cover.

Hales, meanwhile, could line up for Nottinghamshire in their Royal London One-Day Cup match against Durham on Friday.

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