After being in international wilderness since last September, it is looking increasingly likely that all-rounder Ben Stokes might make his long-awaited return in England colours in the first ODI against New Zealand in Hamilton on February 25. Speaking to stuff.co.nz ahead of his team’s crunch T20 encounter against the Kiwis, England captain Eoin Morgan admitted that he will find a place for Ben Stokes in game next Sunday.
Ben Stokes was alleged to have been involved in a brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol in late September last year and hasn’t represented his country ever since. The 26-year-old also appeared in front of a Bristol Magistrates’ Court for a hearing of the case and pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray leveled against him. After the hearing, Ben Stokes arrived in New Zealand on Friday to link up with him teammates.
England also have a do-or-die match coming up in the Trans-Tasman T20 tri-series on Sunday but Morgan confirmed that they are unlikely to have Stokes available for the encounter, but did not forget to reiterate that he could feature in the playing XI next week.
A fact in contention here is that England head coach Trevor Bayliss had recently stated that Stokes might need some time to make his way back into the Three Lions starting line-up and was unlikely to play in the first ODI against the Black Caps. Morgan’s comments suggest that the England team management has had a change of heart regarding the mercurial all-rounder.
“Yes, there’s a good chance he’ll be fit for that. He only got off the flight yesterday, he’ll be taking the next couple of days really easy, obviously there’s a big risk of injury over the next few days, so he’ll be taking a light load,” Morgan told stuff.co.nz.
Having arrived in New Zealand, Stokes took part in his team’s training session ahead of Sunday’s T20 clash and also received a few throwdowns. However, while the rest of the team had a net session, the 26-year-old did some one-on-one fielding and took high and long catches. Despite Stokes having a light training session, Morgan admitted that his presence boosted morale within the England camp.
“When he arrived in last night we got together, a group of us in the team room, and just caught up for a while. A lot of us have seen him in the time he’s been away, but some guys haven’t. So it’s good to have him back,” said Eoin Morgan.