Stokes recalled to England one-day squad with Hales
All-rounder’s place will depend on CPS action Root says Test team ‘still massively in this series’
Ben Stokes has been included in England’s 16-man squad for the one-day series to be played against Australia after the Ashes but his involvement depends on whether he is charged by the Crown Prosecution Service.
“Selectors were given clear guidance to name their strongest squad and have made their selections accordingly,” an England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman said. But Stokes’ involvement “remains subject to any relevant legal or disciplinary developments in relation to the incident in Bristol in September”.
Trevor Bayliss, the England head coach, said about the prospect of Stokes’ return and a media circus: “I’m sure there will be. We won’t know it, actually, until it comes along. There’s been a fair bit of scrutiny that’s come along with it in the first five or six weeks as well. But we’ve got to adjust to that at some stage.”
On whether Stokes would actually be available, Bayliss said: “I’ve got absolutely no idea. Still waiting for the police report. Whenever he comes back, that’s going to be a bit of a circus, for sure. Whether it’s any more of a circus than it’s already been, it’s hard to say. If it happens, let’s just get on with it and take it on the chin.”
Stokes was in action in New Zealand’s Ford Trophy one-day competition for Canterbury in Auckand yesterday, making 34 out of 277 for nine in a seven-wicket defeat.
Now that Alex Hales is available for England selection, having been cleared by Avon and Somerset Police, he returns to the squad, but not necessarily to the team. Bayliss suggested that he would prefer to keep the opening pair of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow.
“From my point of view, and I haven’t spoken to Morgs [Eoin Morgan, the one-day captain] about it, but the two openers we had did very well and it would be difficult to go against them,” Bayliss said.
Bayliss does not foresee Joe Root and Moeen Ali having a break until after the one-day series, when England join Australia and New Zea- land in a Twenty20 tri-series. “We’ll keep a check on them in this Test series and the one-dayers. Hopefully, all going according to plan, they’ll play these five Test matches and the five one-dayers as well, then we’ll look at a break.”
Following England’s 120-run defeat in the second Test in Adelaide yesterday, Root was adamant his team were still “massively in this series” and in a much better position than they were four years ago when they were whitewashed 5-0, even though his senior players are out of form.
Moeen’s bowling has been ineffective and he has been dismissed four times by Nathan Lyon. Alastair Cook is averaging 15, Bairstow has a top score of 42 from four innings, while Root has twice passed 50 without going on to make a century, a habit that is causing him major concern.
“We have shown throughout the two games that for periods we can outperform Australia, but just not for five days, and that is going to be our challenge,” said Root. “I think we are playing better cricket this time around [compared to four years ago]. I don’t think we [the teams] are us unevenly matched as we were last time around. We have shown throughout the two games that it has ebbed and flowed and we have been in control for periods of the game where I don’t think that was necessarily the case last time around. We just have to try to harness those periods and expand them and make them last for longer periods of time.”
There are few options for England and Bayliss has indicated they will play the same XI in the third Test at the Waca in Perth next week. “I can’t see any reason to change the team,” he said. “[Chris] Woakes bowled well, as did the two experienced bowlers. I thought [Craig] Overton bowled extremely well. He batted and fielded well, too. He has a bit of fire in his belly. Everyone has shown that they have a bit of fight.”
England play a two-day game in Perth over the weekend but the side will be mostly made up of Lions players, with Moeen Ali the only player from Adelaid on duty. he will captain the side. Gary Ballance is the spare batsman in the squad but is another left-hander whose outside edge Lyon can spin the ball past. Overton impressed Bayliss enough to play at Perth, putting Mark Wood’s return on hold, but the batting is the major concern.
“They are good enough to make Test hundreds. If you have made a fifty, you’ve just got to do it again,” said Bayliss. “It’s about going through that ceiling and doing it twice. Think to yourself I have 50, do it again. Keep playing straight, keep playing my game.”
In the swing: Ben Stokes batting for Canterbury in Auckland yesterday