Sydney: Suspended all-rounder Ben Stokes was included Thursday in England’s squad for their ODI series against Australia, with coach Trevor Bayliss bracing for ‘a circus’ if he is cleared to play. Stokes is currently banned from international cricket while British authorities probe his alleged involvement in a late-night fight outside a Bristol nightclub.
Batsman Alex Hales, who was caught up in the same fracas, was also named in the 16-man squad for the five-game series, starting January 14 at Melbourne.
Selectors said in a statement they were 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,” they said.
Bayliss admitted Stokes’ 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 told reporters. “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.”
New Zealand-born Stokes did not travel to Australia with the rest of the squad for the Ashes Test series, and has missed the first two in Brisbane and Adelaide, with England losing both.
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.
Even though Stokes is playing club cricket New Zealand, Hales has not played any professional cricket since the September nightclub incident.
England ODI: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.