Stokes ‘desperate’ to play cricket, says Root

Gauging the all-rounder’s eagerness and fitness, the England team management decided to bring him back in the team, according to Joe Root.

Ready for action: Ben Stokes warms up alongside other England squad members at Trent Bridge on Friday.   -  Getty Images

Ben Stokes is “desperate” to return to playing cricket, Joe Root has said.

The England captain announced the XI for Saturday’s third Test on match-eve, with Stokes brought straight back in. “He's just desperate to get back playing cricket, make that his main focus,” Root said of the all-rounder. “I sat him down yesterday, just me and him, and asked him where he was at. He told me he’s desperate to get out there, wants to put in performances and concentrate on his cricket now. He felt he was ready to play. We obviously assessed his fitness as well, over the course of the two days, and made that call.”

Difficult selection decision

It was hard to omit Sam Curran, Man-of-the-Match in the first Test, Root stated. “It's probably one of the most difficult selections I’ve had to make as captain. I think some people would see that as the easy option, to leave Sam out. But he’s offered so much to this bowling group. What he’s done so far has been nothing short of high-class.”

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Root agreed that there was a possibility Stokes would not get a warm welcome. “Who knows? It is very difficult to say. It has been a long time, a long process and he has been found not guilty now. Who knows how people will react but I am sure he is very aware there might be a slightly different reaction. That is all part and parcel of making sure you feel ready to play,” he said.

Asked if Stokes had apologised to his team-mates when he rejoined the squad here, Root smiled. “That is for us and within our dressing room,” he said. “There are certain things that should be kept within the group and I will leave it there.”

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