England head coach –Trevor Bayliss, on Wednesday, hints at the unavailability of all-rounder Ben Stokes in the first One Day International of the five-match series against New Zealand, starting on 25 February in Hamilton, despite being not guilty to the affray charges over Bristol incident.
With Stokes pleading not guilty, in addition –a court hearing will take place on March 12, after the final ODI which is slated to be played on March 10, but Bayliss said the all-rounder has to stay away from the ground for some time. Though Bayliss had expressed hopes to bring him back into the national side during New Zealand one-day series, at the moment he is unlikely to play the series opener, as he has been given time to prepare for the game since he is out of the game for more than six months.
Bayliss told Sky Sports, “He hasn’t played for a while. It is not as if we can maybe bring him straight back for these T20s, for example. We have got to get him up to speed and hopefully during this one-day series we can get him back into the team.”
He went to further say that Stokes, who will be arriving in New Zealand on February 18, will be assessed during practice sessions. “At this stage, I’d have to say it was unlikely [he’ll play the first ODI]. We’ll have to wait and see how he is with travel, with practice. The reason we are getting him out as soon as we can is that we can get him up to speed so he is available for selection as early as possible" quoted the England coach.
Commenting on Stokes and his slot in the England side after Bristol incident, Coach said, “To me, apart from the way he plays, he’s a quality batter and bowler and our best fielder and one of the leaders in our squad. I think one of the biggest things we’ve missed over the summer has been the combinations we’ve been able to play.
Right throughout the summer, we’ve been down to five bowlers, especially in the one-dayers and T20s. We’ve been able to have six bowlers before, which gives the captain plenty of different options. I think that’s what we’ve missed the most apart from his individual performances.”
Bayliss signed off by saying, “There’s been players in the past who’ve had off-field issues and are able to put that aside and concentrate on cricket. Ben is one of those types of guys but only time will tell. I’ve got a feeling he will be one of the guys.”