England bowed out of the global tournament in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year at the group stage, the Kiwis themselves inflicting a particularly humiliating defeat on them, triumphing with 226 balls to spare. But Eoin Morgan’s men have been much closer to the Black Caps in this five-game one-day series, winning the opener at Edgbaston and pushing them hard in defeats at the Oval and the Ageas Bowl. Their improvement has been down to an attacking approach, particularly with the bat as they have racked up three successive totals over 300 – something they had never previously done in ODIs.
Hales, who has yet to fully fire in this series, has welcomed the change in mindset.
“The last week or so has been really enjoyable, particularly considering how the winter went for us as a squad,” said the opening batsman.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces around and guys are doing what they’ve done for their counties now at international level so it’s good to see.
“There are fresh faces and a lot of young talent around this squad. Guys are expressing themselves in the field and enjoying themselves which is key.
“We’re pretty inexperienced so the way the three games have gone, we’ve pretty much matched the Kiwis so far and played some really good cricket, so in terms of how inexperienced we are and how raw we are, I think we’ve done pretty well. It looks like we’ve won our fanbase back in one-day cricket.”
Hales himself is benefiting from an extended run in the team, having been in and out over the last 12 months, but he knows he needs to make a big score soon.
“It is nice to get a consistent run. In the past I’ve been in and out of the team and never really got a proper go at it,” said the Nottinghamshire batsman, who has made scores of 20, 54 and 23 in this series.
“I’ve still got a lot of hard work and hopefully some big scores to score if I want to cement that place.”
Making a century at his home ground of Trent Bridge in today’s fourth ODI would be a “dream” scenario for Hales, who struck 99 in a Twenty20 international at the same venue against the West Indies three years ago.
“It would be a dream come true,” he added. “Playing an ODI at your home ground, I came close a few years ago in a Twenty20 and getting 99 and then getting bowled in one of the last overs.
“I’d love to get that milestone, it would be a very, very good day for me.”