England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who recently pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray over a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub in last September, is ready to join with England squad for the upcoming bilateral ODI and Test series in New Zealand. However, England’s head coach Trevor Bayliss stated that the 26-year old all-rounder will probably miss the 5-match ODI series opener.
During an interview to Sky Sports, Bayliss said, “He hasn’t played for a while. It is not as if we can maybe bring him straight back for these T20s, for example. We have got to get him up to speed and hopefully during this one-day series we can get him back into the team.”
The English head coach further added, “At this stage, I’d have to say it was unlikely [he’ll play the first ODI]. We’ll have to wait and see how he is with travel, with practice. The reason we are getting him out as soon as we can is that we can get him up to speed so he is available for selection as early as possible.”
Earlier, an ECB spokesperson said about Stokes’ inclusion in the team, “Any decision to include him (Ben Stokes) in upcoming matches will be made by Head Coach Trevor Bayliss and the England management team.”
As per schedule, Stokes will reach in New Zealand on 18th February. Since the last September, Stokes has not represented for the England side. However, in the last December, Stokes played domestic cricket in New Zealand where he had decent performances.
Without the service of Stokes, England lost the Ashes series on the Australian soil by the 4-0 margin while they defeated the hosts Australia in the 5-match ODI series by the 1-4 margin. In the ongoing tri-series, which is hosting by Australia and New Zealand jointly, England is in a tough position as they have not found a victory in their first three matches.
To explain about the importance of Ben Stokes for the English team, Bayliss quoted, “To me, apart from the way he plays, he’s a quality batter and bowler and our best fielder and one of the leaders in our squad. I think one of the biggest things we’ve missed over the summer has been the combinations we’ve been able to play.”
He also added, “Right throughout the summer we’ve been down to five bowlers, especially in the one-dayers and T20s. We’ve been able to have six bowlers before, which gives the captain plenty of different options. I think that’s what we’ve missed the most apart from his individual performances.”
Bayliss also believes that Stokes will be able to put aside the off-field issues and focus on the sport. The 55-year old said, “There have been players in the past who’ve had off-field issues and are able to put that aside and concentrate on cricket. Ben is one of those types of guys but only time will tell. I’ve got a feeling he will be one of the guys.”