England all-rounder Stokes ‘desperate’ to move on


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Stokes is ‘desperate’ to play cricket again – Root

England all-rounder Ben Stokes is “desperate” to move on from his trial for affray, says captain Joe Root.

Stokes, 27, was found not guilty on Tuesday and will return to the England team for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge, which starts on Saturday.

“He feels he is ready,” said Root. “He wants to make cricket his main focus.

“He has told me he’s desperate to get out there, wants to put in performances and concentrate on his cricket now.”

Stokes was charged for his part in an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub last September.

He missed England’s tour of Australia, as well as the second Test win against India at Lord’s while he stood trial.

Stokes will replace Sam Curran at Trent Bridge, where an England victory would seal the five-match series with two games to spare.

Although he is currently free to play for England, he could yet be sanctioned by the England and Wales Cricket Board’s disciplinary commission.

Root, 27, rejected the suggestion that Stokes returning to the England team only four days after his trial ended was bad for the image of the game.

“That was a decision made above our heads,” said Root. “He has been made available for selection and, from that point on, it was about is he good enough to play for England.

“He has been a fine performer for us for a long period of time and offers so much to this group on and off the field.

“He is a big part of our team and he has the ability to change the game. Hopefully that can be the case this week.”

The incident involving Stokes and batsman Alex Hales came in the early hours of the morning, following England’s one-day international victory over West Indies.

On the Ashes tour that followed, Jonny Bairstow was accused of ‘headbutting’ Australia batsman Cameron Bancroft, while England Lions batsman Ben Duckett poured a drink over James Anderson, both in the same Perth bar.

At the time, coach Trevor Bayliss said players would pay with their places in the team if behaviour did not improve.

On Thursday, the Australian said that he had seen a change and that the players had “finally woken up”.

Ben Stokes and Joe Root<!–

Stokes and Root during England practice

Asked on Friday if he had spoken to Stokes about his conduct, Root said: “As captain you want to make sure everyone is doing everything they can to help the team move forward.

“With cricket, Ben’s commitment is always there, so it is a bit more complex than that.

“There are still a lot of things that need to happen and we can’t really look too far ahead until a lot of things have taken place, so there is stuff to consider further down the line.”

As England practised on Friday, Stokes was the last player to leave the field after a spell batting in the nets was followed by some slip catching.

With fans flanking the steps towards the dressing rooms, Stokes granted plenty of requests for autographs and selfies.

Root, though, conceded that Stokes may face a “different” reaction from the Trent Bridge crowd.

“It has been a long time, a long process and he has been found not guilty now,” said Root.

“Who knows how people will react, but I am sure he is very aware there might be a slightly different reaction.

“That is all part and parcel of making sure you feel ready to play. He feels he can do that and, as a side, we are very clear making sure the main focus is the actual cricket.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/45228631

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