Ben Stokes has been included in England’s squad for their One-Day International series against Australia, with Trevor Bayliss saying that the team would be bracing for “a circus” if the still-suspended allrounder were cleared to play.
Stokes has been serving a ban from international cricket as British authorities probed his alleged involvement in a late-night fight outside a Bristol nightclub in September, and it remained in doubt whether he would play.
Squad: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Alex Hales, who was caught up in the same fracas, was also named in the 16-man squad for the five-game series, starting in Melbourne on January 14.
Selectors said in a statement that they had been advised to name their strongest squad, and picked the pair accordingly. “Both Alex Hales and Ben Stokes are included, though their involvement remains subject to any relevant legal or disciplinary developments in relation to the incident in Bristol in September,” said an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement on Thursday (December 7).
Bayliss admitted Stokes’s potential appearance in Australia could be a distraction for the team. “Whenever he comes back that’s going to be a bit of a circus for sure,” he said after England lost the second Test in Adelaide on Wednesday.
“Whether it’s any more of a circus than it’s already been, it’s hard to say. If it happens, let’s just get on with it and take it on the chin. We’ve got to adjust to that at some stage.”
1st ODI: January 14, Melbourne
2nd ODI: January 19, Brisbane
3rd ODI: January 21, Sydney
4th ODI: January 26, Adelaide
5th ODI: January 28, Perth (Optus Stadium)
Stokes did not travel to Australia with the rest of the squad for the Ashes series, and has missed the first two Tests, in Brisbane and Adelaide, both of which England have lost.
But speculation that Stokes was preparing for a dramatic call-up was fuelled by his decision to sign with New Zealand provincial side Canterbury as their overseas player in late November. In his first limited-overs match for his birth province against Otago, he was bowled for two. He did better against Auckland on Wednesday, hitting 34 from 41 deliveries as he shook off the rust.
Stokes could yet return mid-series to the Ashes if police decide not to charge him. British detectives late last month passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision, but there has been no word since.
“I’ve got absolutely no idea. Still waiting for the police report,” said Bayliss when asked if he expected Stokes to play in the Ashes.
The ECB said in their statement that once they received formal confirmation on whether Stokes had been charged or not, they would meet within 48 hours to decide the next step.
Moeen to lead in warm-up game
Moeen Ali will lead the English team in a two-day warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI starting on Saturday at Richardson Park, Perth.
Moeen was the only player from the XI that played against Australia in the Adelaide Test to feature in the match. He was joined in the 12-man squad with the five players that did not play in Adelaide, plus six players from England Lions (Ben Duckett, Keaton Jennings, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone and Mark Wood).
Squad: Moeen Ali (capt), Jake Ball, Gary Balance, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes (wk), Keaton Jennings, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone, Mark Wood.
Hales, an opener who has not played any professional cricket since the September nightclub incident, learned this week that he would face no criminal charges, opening the door for his trip to Australia.
In addition to Stokes and Hales, Sam Billings and Mark Wood were added to the squad that beat Windies 4-0 in the ODI series held in England at the end of the British summer.
“With around 18 months to the start of the 2019 World Cup, our ODI side continues to make solid progress with series wins over the West Indies and South Africa last summer and a semifinal berth in the Champions Trophy,” said James Whitaker, the ECB selector. “The forthcoming series against Australia presents another significant opportunity for this group to showcase their skills and talent against a quality side away from home.”