Ben Stokes Getty 1

England have still got to decide on Ben Stokes return to the Test fold following his acquittal of affray charge at a trial in Bristol on Tuesday. Stokes missed out on the Lord’s Test because it clashed with his affray trial in the Bristol Crown Court last week.

England coach Trevor Bayliss welcomed Stokes’ return to the squad on Thursday. But neither England nor India are obliged to confirm their XIs until the toss. Given England’s ascendancy in the light of their 2-0 lead in the current series, it would pose a happy selection dilemma for the management with Stokes’s comeback and the good performances delivered by other players of late.

“It’s good to have him back around the squad. I’m happy for Ben and glad it’s all over,” Bayliss told reporters at Trent Bridge on Thursday. “I haven’t actually spoken to him since…but I’ve got the next two days to assess where he’s at. It’s a good position to be in. Whether he plays or not we’ve got some guys in good form in the team,” the Australian added.

“It’s a difficult decision whoever misses out, whether it’s Ben or anyone else. It’s a position we’ve been trying to get into for a while. We have some good young players coming in,” he reckoned on the team combination for the third Test.

Explaining how Stokes was added to the squad after the not guily verdict, Bayliss said: “It was a collective decision. Myself, the management, the captain, Andy Flower, the board — everyone had a bit of a say and basically thought for his (Stokes’s) own wellbeing it was good to get him back around the cricket,” the head coach of England said.

“There’s nothing automatic about selections, we’ll see how he is mentally as well as physically. He’s not played for a couple of weeks. It’s a difficult decision to make.

Although cleared by the court both Stokes and England team-mate Alex Hales remain subject to a Cricket Discipline Commission investigation. Former England cricketers are divided whether Stokes needs to be punished despite the clearance.

Stokes was not selected for the 2017/18 Ashes series in Australia where England lost 0-4 and also attracted sharp criticism from the media for some of their players’ off-field behaviour.

“Since the (Stokes) incident we’ve done a lot of work with team culture with the two captains (Test skipper Joe Root and white-ball counterpart Eoin Morgan) — and that’s ongoing,” said Bayliss. “Changes with curfews and that type of thing. In the past, all the other teams I’ve been involved with and this one, when I arrived, would treat teams like adults and they (players) will respond like it,” he added.

“For a team on the road 11 months out of 12, we had an incident we’d rather have not happened to a degree and we’ve thought we needed to do something different. There were a couple of small indiscretions in Australia after that incident and I think the players have finally woken up. They’ve learnt their lesson and the way they go about their profession has been top class,” the coach signed off.

(With Inputs from AFP)