England allrounder, Chris Woakes, believes Alex Hales has staked a firm claim to the Test opener's spot after a solid series against Sri Lanka.
Hales registered his three highest scores in Test cricket, during the recent series against Sri Lanka, narrowly missing out on a maiden Test hundred at Lord's, when he was trapped leg before, six runs short of the milestone.
Speaking at a Sri Lankan inspired cooking event hosted by Royal London, Woakes praised his England teammate, saying: "He had a great series.
"South Africa probably didn’t go as well as he’d have liked where he got a few starts but didn’t kick on, so to have a really strong series with the bat is only good for him."
Woakes witnessed Hales frustration in the England dressing room after falling short of a first Test hundred: “He definitely chucked his helmet and his bat about a bit and had a little scream to himself after, but nothing out of the ordinary. It’s hard to explain the emotion you go through.
“He was obviously disappointed last week, but he’s the type of character that will move on from that and take the positives from it,
“He would have loved to have got that elusive hundred and get his name on the honours board, as you don’t get that chance too often, so it’s a shame that he’s done it.
“He’ll take the good things away from the other day and make sure next time he’s in that position he won’t get out. That’s cricket unfortunately – sometimes you get a good ball and you’re back in the hutch.
The fast bowler was left in no doubt about Hales' opening pedigree in Test cricket, saying: “But 100 per cent he’s shown he can be the man to open for England.
"The way he has adapted in tough conditions when the ball has been swinging around was impressive, and as an opener you definitely have to be able to leave the ball well which is something he has improved on.”
Hales and Woakes will both be in action in the ODI series, despite a number of changes from the Test squad Woakes is keen to carry momentum from the Tests into the shorter form, saying: “The white ball guys are coming in and while it is largely a very different squad, a series win like we had definitely gives us the momentum heading into this one,
“Hopefully that has dented the Sri Lankans confidence a bit and gives us a little bit of an advantage, but it is a completely different series – and almost a different sport in some ways.
The right-handed allrounder is wary of underestimating the Sri Lankans, though, warning: “They will be looking for some sort of revenge having not gone so well in the Test series so I’m sure it’s going to be a tough one.
"They’ll feel like they have a lot to prove as they are a good side and they have showed their one-day game is very strong over a long period of time.
“They’ll be a threat for sure, even in English conditions, and we’ll have to be at our best to get the result."
Woakes hopes the squad will carry confidence into the series from their T20 exploits in India earlier this year, saying: “The guys in India went fantastically well, and played fearless cricket with a smile on their faces which was great to watch,
"Hopefully that can rub off on this side and we can produce some big scores again.”
England take on Sri Lanka in the first of five ODIs at Trent Bridge on Tuesday.