Stokes returns to squad



First published in Sport

ENGLAND welcomed back “vivacious character” Ben Stokes in an otherwise unchanged squad for the first Investec Test against India.

Without long to dwell on the dramatic last-gasp defeat against Sri Lanka at Headingley, selectors opted to take an identical 12-man squad to Trent Bridge for the flagship series against India augmented by Durham all-rounder Stokes.

The 23-year-old was the star performer during England’s otherwise dismal Ashes winter, taking 15 wickets and hitting a maiden Test century in the 5-0 Australia whitewash, but saw his progress stall after a self-inflicted injury.

Stokes punched a locker on the limited-overs tour of West Indies, forcing him to miss the World Twenty20 and, due to uncertainty over his match-fitness, the start of England’s international summer.

But it was always a question of when, rather than if, he would re-enter the fray, and ten wickets in his last LV= County Championship match for Durham made a compelling case that the time was right.

National selector James Whitaker said: “Ben’s strength and vigour will add to the whole environment and it will be fantastic for him.

“He is a vivacious character, he’s got some ‘X factor’, he’s fantastic on flat wickets and gets some movement off the pitch.

“We’re excited about Ben.”

Explaining Stokes’ previous nonselection, Whitaker explained: “We didn’t have any regrets about not including him for the Sri Lanka series. We made that judgement call and felt at that stage he needed a few more overs under his belt and get a little bit more consistent with the ball and we feel he has done that.”

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