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'Devastated' Hales removed from England's World Cup squad

Alex Hales accused English cricket authorities of going back on their word after the batsman was removed from the host country's squad for the Cricket World Cup on Monday for undisclosed off-field reasons.

Hales' management company said its client was "devastated" after being told by the England and Wales Cricket Board he would not be able to play for any of England's teams during the upcoming international season in the wake of a recent suspension, the reason for which has not been revealed.

It was the second time Hales has been sanctioned under the ECB's disciplinary policy, having been suspended and fined for his part in a street brawl also involving England teammate Ben Stokes in September 2017.

In a statement released after the ECB made its decision, the 366 Group that represents Hales said he was "given assurances that any suspension ... could not affect his selection for the World Cup." "The fact all those assurances seem to have been rendered meaningless has understandably left Alex devastated," the management company said.

"Nobody is seeking to excuse Alex's behavior in this instance," it added. "He absolutely acknowledges and recognizes he made a huge mistake. But as part of the ongoing process, both he and his representatives have been involved in many conversations with senior members of the ECB over the past few weeks where Alex has apologized profusely for his actions.

"The ECB insisted on Alex taking certain rehabilitation measures following his suspension. In line with both the ECB and PCA guidelines, those measures must remain confidential. However, at every stage, Alex fulfilled his obligations."

Ashley Giles, the ECB managing director of men's cricket, said Hales was removed because the governing body needed "to consider what is in the best interests of the team, to ensure they are free from any distractions and able to focus on being successful on the pitch."

"I want to make it clear this is not the end of Alex's career as an England player," Giles said. However, the ECB has deprived Hales of what might have been the highlight of his career — a World Cup on home soil.

As a result of his first suspension, Hales — one of the world's most explosive ODI batsmen — lost his place in England's ODI side, with Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow the new opening partnership. Hales was set to be a back-up at the World Cup, which starts on May 30, but might have forced his way into the team.

Hales has scored 2,419 ODI runs at 37.79, and six centuries. Before the World Cup, England plays a one-off ODI against Ireland and a series against Pakistan. Roy has withdrawn from the squad to face Ireland because of a back spasm and will instead join up for the games against Pakistan.

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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