Nottingham: Alex Hales still thinks of himself as being on the fringes of the England ODI team, even after a hundred that set-up a record-breaking win over world champions Australia.
Hales hit a superb 147 on his Nottinghamshire home ground on Tuesday as England piled up an all-time men's ODI record total of 48 for six on the way to a series-clinching victory by a colossal 242 runs.
It was an impressive statement of intent by England who, since the debacle of their 2015 World Cup campaign, have risen to the top of the global ODI rankings ahead of hosting next year's edition, when they will try to win their first global 50-over title.
Yet despite his latest Trent Bridge century — Hales made 171 there when England set the previous ODI record score of 444 for three against Pakistan two years ago — there is still an expectation he will miss out when all-rounder Ben Stokes recovers from his hamstring injury.
Jonny Bairstow, who made 139 at Trent Bridge on Tuesday, and the in-form Jason Roy are now England's ODI openers, with Hales coming in at number three.
But the 29-year-old Hales, a veteran of 63 ODIs, remains eager to make the most of his opportunities following a stunning 92-ball innings featuring 16 fours and five sixes.
"Being on the fringes of an England team, it’s about as hungry as you ever should be to string together good performances and make sure you’re fit and ready whenever the chance comes."
He added: "I don’t think my situation has changed much in terms of those two guys being ahead of me.
"You’ve got Jonny who's got four hundreds in six games and Jason, when in form, is one of the best players in the world.
"It's a nice problem for the selectors and the coaches to have. It’s healthy competition and keeps everybody striving to improve."
Hales added: "Every opportunity I get is going to be gold dust moving forward.
"Stokesy's obviously going to slot back in — he's one of the best all-rounders in the world. (So) I think it's three of us fighting for two spots currently."
Meanwhile Hales said he was particularly proud the team had piled up a record score against Australia, with a first ODI series whitewash of their oldest rivals the aim heading into Thursday's match at Chester-le-Street, which precede a finale at Old Trafford on Sunday.
"There’s no better feeling and no better team to do it against than the Aussies," he insisted.
"It's probably our best ever team performance in terms of what we did with the bat and the way we fielded and particularly the way the spinners bowled."
It was a sentiment echoed by England ODI captain Eoin Morgan, who made England's quickest fifty at this level, off just 21 balls, on Tuesday.
"It is an opportunity missed, but I'm very proud of what we achieved," said Morgan when asked if he regretted England not breaking the 500-run barrier.
"This is certainly the best period of my career, and the proudest as well," the Irishman added.