England outcast Alex Hales could be offered an olive branch by the national side after national selector Ed Smith signalled a softening in approach to the star Sydney Thunder batsman.
Hales has not played for his country since being ejected from the squad on the eve of the 2019 World Cup, with captain Eoin Morgan saying the 32-year-old had lost the trust of his teammates following a failed drug test.
There has been no thawing in relations in the intervening period but, although Hales was once again overlooked for the 16-strong group that will take on India in five Twenty20s in Ahmedabad next month, there was a suggestion from Smith that things could soon change.
With Hales' form easily good enough to warrant attention, having just finished as the top scorer in the Big Bash with a series of outstanding performances for the Thunder, a partial return to the fold is being pondered in the coming months.
Asked directly about Hales, Smith said: "It's coming up for two years. In the English summer we'll look at inviting some people to training in the run-up to series as we look to extend and expand our squad and the relationships within.
"We're always looking at ways to consider getting players who aren't currently in the actual squad to come along to training days, perhaps in the run-up to a series.
"We're very aware of everything players do in franchise cricket around the world and I think that is something we will discuss and look at moving forward, with what's best for England cricket."
Morgan, in his powerful position as a World Cup-winning captain, has been characterised as the main block to a Hales recall and Smith would not be drawn on whether that remained the case.
Whatever happens, time is short for Hales to break back into the T20 side in time for the short-form World Cup in India this autumn.
Smith has named a full-strength squad for the five-match series in Ahmedabad, with Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow all included.
There's also a recall for Liam Livingstone following his own productive BBL season with Perth Scorchers but James Vince must wait for another chance despite finishing second in the BBL's run scoring charts.
Joe Root, who has been in irrepressible form against the red ball in 2021, piling up two double centuries in three Tests and 644 runs in all, has again been left out.
But the combined factors of England's limited-overs depth and Root's own need for a break mean he remains on the outside .
"We're seeing that Joe is one of England's greatest ever cricketers - that's becoming clearer by the day and by the match," said Smith.
"He knows if he doesn't play in that T20 World Cup - and no decision has been made because he might come back in - it shows how strong a position English cricket is in."