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Court Case Puts Ben Stokes' England Career on Hold, Coach Bayliss Not Worried

AFP | Updated: August 6, 2018, 1:05 PM IST
Court Case Puts Ben Stokes' England Career on Hold, Coach Bayliss Not Worried

Ben Stokes celebrates taking the wicket of India's Virat Kohli on the fourth day of the first Test between England and India at Edgbaston. (AFP)

Birmingham: Birmingham: Ben Stokes's international career will be placed in suspended animation when the England cricketer appears in a Bristol court on Monday charged with affray. While England have had to make do without the talented all-rounder before, either through injury or their own policy decisions, both he and they are now beholden to the outcome of a looming trial.

His upcoming court appearance — which is expected to last at least five days — saw Stokes omitted from England's squad for the second Test against India at Lord's starting on Thursday.

“I’ve got no concerns about it," said coach Trevor Bayliss ahead of the second Test, starting at Lord’s on Thursday.

“It means that someone else has got to take up the slack. Hopefully winning this one and having that confidence will be a good thing.”

Stokes, speaking after the Edgbaston win, said that he wasn’t sure what to feel about the circumstances he finds himself in, but Bayliss insisted that the all-rounder wasn’t overly worried.

“Ben has no concerns about it as well,” Bayliss said. “Obviously, it’s something we would have liked to have not been happening. That was the same in Australia [during the Ashes, which Stokes had to miss]. But the boys in Australia just got on with it. There was a bit of chat before the series started but once we got out there it was about playing as well as we possibly can with the guys we’ve got.

“It will be interesting to see who can step up and take his place. Someone, or two or three guys, will have to step up and do the extra yards. That will be a telling factor for the next match.”

On Woakes, who was in the England XI for the second Test against Pakistan at Headingley in early June as Stokes nursed an injury, Bayliss was positive.

“We had him bowling in the nets. One of the first practice days here, he bowled 14 overs in the nets. Two spells: eight and six. He’s gone back and played a couple of T20 games and is back into match mode. Fitness wise he should be fine,” said the England coach.

Stokes, 27, served notice of just what Joe Root's men will be missing when, in typical fashion, he seized the initiative to bowl England to a 31-run victory in the first Test at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The lively paceman and hard-hitting batsman was centre stage when taking two wickets in an over, including the prize scalp of India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli, as England took charge decisively of what had been a see-saw contest.

Stokes, also a brilliant fielder, can quickly alter the course of a game with either bat or ball, with his all-round ability allowing England to pick either an extra batsman or bowler as they see fit.

His absence was keenly felt by the England and Wales Cricket Board suspended him from international cricket following an early-hours incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September that has led to the trial.

The ECB also ultimately removed Stokes from the position of Test vice-captain before opting against selecting him during the 2017/18 Ashes in Australia, which England lost 4-0.

Yet having left him out when he had not been charged, the ECB curiously allowed Stokes to be recalled for the subsequent tour of New Zealand when he had pleaded not guilty to affray.

Stokes's value was underlined last year when he became the Indian Premier League's most expensive foreign player after the Rising Pune Supergiant signed him for £1.7 million ($2.2 million).

He made good on the price-tag by scoring 316 runs at a strike rate of 142.98 and taking 12 wickets at an economy rate of 7.18 in the Twenty20 event.

Stokes's on-field failures can be as great as his successes — the prime example being when Carlos Brathwaite hit him for four successive sixes to snatch a stunning win for West Indies in the last over of the 2016 World Twenty20 final.

But Stokes produced batting fireworks of his own during the 2015 Lord's Test against his native New Zealand — the 27-year-old was born in Christchurch but moved to England with his family as a boy — courtesy of dashing innings of 92 and 101.

Stokes's left-handed batting also yielded a remarkable Test innings of 258 from just 198 balls against South Africa in Cape Town two years ago.

In one sense England need Stokes more than he needs them, as he is among the first generation who can play Twenty20 tournaments rather than Tests to enjoy a lucrative career.

But few doubt the 43-times capped Stokes's desire to represent England.

Just moments after dismissing India's Hardik Pandya to end proceedings at Edgbaston, the Durham star told Sky Sports: "I'm proud to be part of this group, playing for England means so much."
First Published: August 6, 2018, 9:38 AM IST

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