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Ben Stokes has ‘X factor’ needed for Test series against India: James Whitaker

Ben Stokes was the only England player to score a century in the Ashes 2013-14 series © Getty Images
Ben Stokes was the only England player to score a century in the Ashes 2013-14 series © Getty Images

By Julian Guyer

London: Jul 2, 2014

Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes was recalled by England in a 13-man squad on Wednesday for next week’s first Test against India at Trent Bridge, with national selector James Whitaker saying the 23-year-old had the “X factor”. Stokes was the only addition to the 12-man party chosen for England’s recent 1-0 loss in a two-Test series at home to Sri Lanka.

Stokes was not chosen for that short campaign while he regained full fitness following an embarrassingly self-inflicted wrist injury. So angry was Stokes at being dismissed for a golden duck against the West Indies in Barbados, he punched a dressing room locker at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown and promptly broke a bone in his hand.

That forced him to miss the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh and the start of the English season. Since then the seamer has taken a career-best seven for 67 for Durham against Sussex — and 10 wickets in the match — although his batting has been less impressive with 172 runs at 28.66 in four Championship matches.

However, Stokes has already shown his ability at international level by providing England with rare highlights during their 5-0 Ashes 2013-14 thrashing in Australia when he scored a maiden hundred in his second Test at Perth and took eight wickets in Sydney.

“Ben’s been frustrated at the start of the season from what happened at the back end of the winter,” Whitaker told Sky Sports News on Wednesday. “Now he comes in with full vigour into our squad and he fully deserves it.

“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,” added Whitaker, in an indication Stokes would make the XI at Trent Bridge, probably at the expense of fellow all-rounder Chris Jordan, who has yet to deliver a substantial performance at this early stage of his Test career.

Chris Woakes, another seam-bowling all-rounder who was in the squad for the Sri Lanka series but didn’t play, was retained in England’s 13-man squad.

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