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ENGLAND captain Joe Root confirmed today that Ben Stokes will return for the third Test after being cleared of affray at Bristol Crown Court.
Stokes, who was acquitted just four days ago after a case which began almost 11 months earlier following a late-night brawl in the Clifton area of Bristol, will replace his fellow all-rounder Sam Curran against India at Trent Bridge tomorrow.
Root described the switch as “probably one of the most difficult selections” he has been part of as Test captain, but added Stokes is confident he is mentally ready to play again.
Stokes missed the Lord’s victory which last week took England 2-0 up with three to play because of a clash with his court date.
Curran is one of several England might have chosen to step aside, despite his man-of-the-match performance in a thrilling 31-run victory for the hosts in the first Test at Edgbaston.
“Sam misses out — Ben comes into the side,” Root said at the start of his pre-match press conference in Nottingham.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult selections I’ve had to make as captain.”
The decision was made only after he personally consulted with Stokes, to be confident the match would not come too soon for the 27-year-old former vice-captain, and all management staff kept a close eye on his preparation over the past two days.
“He’s just desperate to get back playing cricket, make that his main focus,” said Root.
“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.”
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