Alex Hales during an interview at Gulf News office in Dubai on Tuesday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Alex Hales, England opener in shorter formats and a Twenty20 specialist, is in awe of Virat Kohli but feels Joe Root has the capacity to break records for English cricket.

“Virat Kohli is from a different planet while Root will go on to break records for English cricket,” he said in an exclusive chat during a visit to the Gulf News office on Tuesday.

Hales, who emerged match-winner in the second Twenty20 match of the recent three-match series against India in Cardiff, is in UAE to train for Maratha Arabians for the oncoming T10 Cricket League.

 I grew up watching my father play aggressive knocks and he did have a great influence in my career.”

 - Alex Hales | England Twenty20 opener

A bigger version of the T10 tournament will commence from November 23 to December 2 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, but Hales has arrived to get a feel of the conditions and some promotional work for the event.

Talking about his performance against India, Hales said: “It was very special because we were 1-0 down in the series and it was a must-win game. I batted at No. 4, which is something I have never done before in T20 cricket. So it was a bit of a new role but to get the team over the line and make it 1-1 was really special.”

Hales, who saw Kohli in tremendous form in England in all formats of the game, hailed the Indian captain.

“Kohli is almost from a different planet at the moment. He is playing a different game even in Test matches in England and on difficult batting pitches, he made it look very easy. I would say he is head and shoulders above all and he does something special in all the matches.”

Holding England Test captain Root in high esteem, Hales said: “He is an incredibly special guy. Ever since he was 19, we all knew he is going to be one of the England’s greats. He is only 27 now and has nearly 10 years left in him and may probably set some records for English cricket.”

A big hitting batsman in his lithe frame, Hales is the only England batsman to score a T20 International century. Asked about that landmark innings in the T20 World Cup in 2014, he said: “It was definitely one of the top three highlights of my career. Particularly since Sri Lanka went on to win the tournament. I played that knock (116n.o.) when we needed to win that game to stay in contention. We chased down a target of 190, after being two down for none, in the first over and to put up such a performance on that day, I will never forget.”

Hales’ penchant for hitting sixes began early in 2005 when as a 16-year-old, he hit 55 runs off a single over (three no-balls, eight sixes, one four) in a Cricket Idol T20 tournament at Lords. Hales recalled that day which made him a batsman too. “It was a tournament meant to showcase your talent. I was there as a fast bowler at that time but that knock was the catalyst to move towards batting. So I will say that was a big turning point.”

Hitting hard is something he learnt from his father Gary, who had broken several records in local cricket and once hit an unbeaten 321 for Gerrards Cross against Chalfont St Peter in a limited overs league match. “I grew up watching my father play aggressive knocks and he did have a great influence in my career.”

Hales enjoys playing in the UAE as he scored his maiden One Day International century here. “I have very fond memories here as I scored my maiden century against Pakistan here. Every time I have come here, I have been looked after well. I like the passion the people here have for cricket. UAE as a team is also coming up and is set to make an impact in the next few years.”

Hales feels that England can win the 2019 World Cup. “We are on the right path since 2015 and we have played some really good cricket and at the moment we are ranked No. 1 and we probably have a good chance in 50-over cricket. However, we cannot write off teams like India and Pakistan, with the later winning the Champions Trophy last year. Frankly, you cannot write off any team in the world that will be out to get us.”