England coach Trevor Bayliss has said it was considered important to bring Ben Stokes straight back into the squad following his acquittal for affray for his own “wellbeing”. Bayliss, however, has made no guarantees about his selection for the third Test against India.
Stokes will be assessed “mentally and physically” over the two days of training at Trent Bridge before a decision is made on whether he returns to the XI.
It was less than two hours after the verdict was handed down at Bristol Crown Court that the ECB confirmed Stokes’ recall following a conference call involving various parties including Bayliss, Joe Root and the ECB board.
“It was a collective decision – myself, management, captain, the board, Ed Smith – everyone had a say,” Bayliss said. “It was basically thought that for his own wellbeing it was good to get Ben back around the cricket.”
If Stokes is deemed available to return it will present a selection dilemma following the success of Sam Curran and Chris Woakes in the first two Tests.
“There’s nothing automatic about selections, we’ll see how he is mentally as well as physically,” Bayliss said. “We’ll find out over the next couple of days, I haven’t actually spoken to him yet. We’ve got the next two days to assess where he’s at.
“It’s a good position to be in from that [a selection] point of view. We’ve got some guys in form, in the team. It will be a difficult decision to make. Whether it’s Ben or someone else.”
Following the conclusion of the court case, the attention will now turn to the Cricket Disciplinary Committee (CDC) and what sanctions they may take against Stokes and Alex Hales. The CDC are an independent body so Bayliss will not be involved in the process and he said it was “business as usual” while that takes shape.
Bayliss did say, however, that there would be continued work on the team culture which began in the aftermath of the incident in Bristol. While in Australia for the Ashes series, Bayliss became angered at having to deal with the further controversies that arose involving Jonny Bairstow’s ‘headbutt’ of Cameron Bancroft and Ben Duckett’s incident in Perth, but he believes lessons have now been learnt.
“Certainly since the Bristol incident there’s a lot of work been done on team culture with the two captains and that will be ongoing. We’ve had to make one or two changes – with curfews and that kind of thing – but there will be ongoing work on team culture and what it means to play for England
“Since a couple of small indiscretions in Australia, I can sit here now and say the players have finally woken up and have learnt their lesson. Their behaviour and the way they go about their professional off the field as well as on has been top class since.”