"I want to make it clear this is not the end of Alex Hales's career as an England player. The ECB and the PCA will continue to aid Alex" - Giles Getty

England have dropped Alex Hales from all England squads ahead of the international season, including the World Cup squad.

The decision, made by England and Wales Cricket Board's director of men's cricket Ashley Giles and the England selectors, comes in the wake of a Guardian report on Friday which revealed that Hales, 30, failed a second ECB recreational drugs test. While no mention of this was forthcoming in an ECB statement released on Monday morning, the move comes to ensure there are no unnecessary distractions ahead of what is described in the statement as a "crucial period" in English cricket, with a home World Cup and Ashes series on the horizon.

As a result, the Nottinghamshire batsman will not be taking his place in the squads for the one-off ODI versus Ireland and the T20i against Pakistan, the five-match ODI series against Pakistan and has been struck from the 15-man preliminary World Cup squad. A replacement will be named in due course and it is like to be Hampshire captain James Vince.

Commenting on the decision, Giles said: "We have thought long and hard about this decision. We have worked hard to create the right environment around the England team and need 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. The ECB and the PCA (Professional Cricketers' Association) will continue to aid Alex and work alongside his county club Nottinghamshire to give him the support he needs, to help him fulfil his potential as a professional cricketer."

On Friday, The Guardian reported that the Nottinghamshire batsman was serving a 21-day ban, as pre-determined by the governing body's rules and regulations. Had it been his third failure, Hales would have received an automatic 12-month back and could see his international and domestic contract terminated immediately.

But some within the organisation believed the penalty to be too soft and believed this was Hales simply not learning his lessons after previous indiscretions beyond his first failed drugs test. Hales was part in the Bristol brawl in September 2017 that saw Ben Stokes arrested, received a ban of six limited overs matches (four suspended) and fined 17,500 by the ECB.

As such, there is perhaps no surprise that Giles in particular has decided to impose further sanctions on Hales. The ECB treat drugs violations, certainly recreational drugs, as a player welfare issue and the PCA will be on hand to offer whatever help he needs. From Giles' perspective, taking him out of international action for the time being makes the most sense professionally.

Vince, Hales' likely replacement, will have the chance to state his case against Ireland this Friday and Pakistan, in a T20, on Sunday. Though he has only played six ODIs on account of being a regular back-up to the regular top-order trio of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Hales, Vince's strongest format is 50-over cricket. He has been in form in the English domestic 50-over competition with 402 runs from five innings so far, including a remarkable innings of 190 against Gloucestershire.