England has included both Ben Stokes and Alex Hales in their 15-man squad for the five-match One-Day International series against Australia.
The duo had missed England’s last ODI which were against West Indies at the end of the home season after being involved in a brawl outside a club in Bristol. ECB had stated that neither would be selected until the police investigation concludes. However, Hales has now been granted the permission to play after being cleared of all the charges. But interestingly, Stokes has made it to the squad despite not being cleared of the charges. The police have handed over his case files to the Crown Prosecution Service to seek to charge advise.
“Selectors were given clear guidance to name their strongest squad and have made their selections accordingly,” an official statement from the ECB stated.
“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,” it added.
While only time will tell whether Stokes make it to Australia, Hales will have to fight his way back into the ODI team – having vacated his opening position during the West Indies series and seen Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow grabbing the opportunity with both the hands.
Bairstow has more or less cemented his place in the team by scoring two centuries against West Indies while Roy, who replaced Hales in the last two games, also strengthened his case by scoring 84 and 96.
England head coach Trevor Bayliss hinted that the team is likely to persist with Bairstow and Roy at the time being and ruled out any possibility of including Hales in the playing eleven by altering the batting order.
“We’ve been playing some good one-day cricket and Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy at the top of the order have played well,” Bayliss said. “I can’t see any changes there personally. The two openers we had did very well and it would be difficult to go against them.
“We could bring Hales back in and drop one of those guys down, but then it would upset someone else. We’ve got to take a decision now and I just think the best way to go is with the two guys who have taken over,” he added.
England, meanwhile, will not rest any of their big players during the ODI series but may consider giving some players a break during the Twenty20 tri-series which follows.
Bayliss further admitted that Stokes’ return could lead to a ‘circus’ but made it clear that England would ‘just get on with it and take it on the chin.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of scrutinies,” Bayliss said. “We won’t know it actually until it comes along. There’s been a fair bit of scrutiny that’s come along with it in the first five or six weeks of this tour as well. But we’ve got to adjust to that at some stage.
“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. Whether it’s any more of a circus that 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,” he added.
England one-day squad
Eoin Morgan (capt), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, David Willey, Liam Plunkett, Tom Curran, Mark Wood, Jake Ball.
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