Stokes Named in ODI Squad but No Nearer England Return
The Ashes are not yet done and dusted, England are still right in the five-Test series despite being 2-0 down – if you believe captain Joe Root, but attention has been drawn to the one-day internationals following the naming of Ben Stokes in the squad.
Stokes is currently ruled out of playing in the Test series while the investigation following his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm – which is now in the hands of the Crown Prosecution Service – remains ongoing.
The Test side lacks spark without Stokes in it, with the bowling attack somewhat meek, and the batting options too reliant on Root.
The ECB has made its decision, right or wrong, and England are having to limp on without him in the Tests.
So to see him in the ODI squad has raised eyebrows. If he’s ruled out of representing England on account of the investigation, why name him in the ODI squad?
Following the announcement of Stokes being in the 16-man squad for the ODIs which follow the Test series, it was the main line of questioning for coach Trevor Bayliss.
“Look, we have discussed what will happen when Ben returns, but whenever he comes back that’s going to be a bit of a circus for sure,” Bayliss said, per Cricinfo. “Whether it’s any more of a circus than we’ve already seen on this tour is hard to say. If it happens, let’s just get on with it and take it on the chin.”
England great Sir Ian Botham recently accused the ECB of being ‘dinosaurs’ claiming in an interview with the Adelaide Advertiser Stokes remains innocent and should be free to represent his country.
Whether you agree with Botham’s views on the ECB or not, Stokes being named in the ODI squad smacks of inconsistency.
Stokes is currently playing cricket for Canterbury in New Zealand, so will be somewhere close to match sharpness, but whether he gets to take on Australia this winter remains to be seen.
The CPS have had the case since the police handed it to them at the end of November. The Telegraph’s Nick Hoult suggested it could take “several weeks” for the CPS to make their ruling. By then, the Ashes could well be over – should Australia win the third Test in Perth starting on December 14th.
England’s focus will then shift to the ODIs in a bid to salvage something from what is shaping up to be a disastrous tour. And whether Stokes rides to the rescue remains to be seen.