England captain Joe Root speaks with Ben Stokes during a nets session at Trent Bridge on August 17, 2018 in Nottingham, England.
England captain Joe Root speaks with Ben Stokes during a nets session at Trent Bridge on August 17, 2018 in Nottingham, England.

England captain Joe Root defended the decision to include allrounder Ben Stokes in the playing eleven, at the expense of Sam Curran, for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge starting Saturday.

Root said that he has got the assurance from Stokes that he is ready to perform at his best, only a few days after being found not guilty of affray by a jury at Bristol Crown Court over a 2017 nightclub brawl that saw him knock a man unconscious.

“I sat him down last (Thursday) night, just me and him, and I asked him brutally and honestly if he was in the right place to play for England and he assured me that he’s ready to perform at his best,” said Root.

Stokes replaces left-arm swing bowler Curran, England’s man-of-the-match in their 31-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston earlier this month, and the skipper said it was ‘probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as captain’.

“It’s probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as captain,” Root told reporters at Trent Bridge, adding “He felt he was ready to play. We assessed his fitness as well and made that call. We had two days to gauge that, in terms of fitness, making sure he’s physically right to play.”

Earlier, Stokes was added to the England squad for the third Test with coach Trevor Bayliss stating that the call was made keeping in mind the all-rounder’s wellbeing.

Curran should feel unlucky to missed the cut. After a stellar performance at Edgbaston, where he took five wickets and scored 24 and 63, the 20-year-old made a crucial 43 and picked one wicket in the second Test.

However, Root said that in order to beat the best side in the world it important for the squad to perform well collectively.

“I think some people would see that as the easy option, to leave Sam out,” Root said. “But he’s offered so much to this bowling group — and at the start of the series I said to the team for us to win a five-match series against the best side in the world, it’s going to take more than just 11 players. It’s about us as a squad performing collectively for five games, and he’s played a massive part in the first two… he’s unfortunate to miss out,” said the skipper.

Stokes’ deadly spell on the fourth morning of the first Test at Edgbaston had swung the game in England’s favour and then the trial meant he was forced to miss the skip the following match. His replacement, Chris Woakes, made 137 no out and picked four wickets at Lord’s to guarantee his spot in the third Test.