Ben Stokes not assured automatic selection: England coach Bayliss

Nottingham : England coach Trevor Bayliss on Thursday welcomed Ben Stokes back in the national team’s fold after he was cleared of affray charges but said the troubled all-rounder is not assured of an automatic selection for the third Test against India.

Stokes was acquitted of affray at a trial in Bristol on Tuesday. Due to the trial, he had missed the second Test. “It’s good to have him back around the squad. I’m happy for Ben that’s all over. It was a collective decision [to bring him back into the side so quickly]. It was basically thought that for his own wellbeing, it was good to get him back around cricket,” Bayliss said.

However, the coach said Stokes is not assured of an automatic selection for the third Test starting here on Saturday. “There’s nothing automatic about selections and we’ll see how he is mentally as well as physically. He hasn’t played for a couple of weeks. He’s been a guy that in the past who has been able to come in and perform without having played a lot of cricket. We’ll take that into consideration,” he added.

Sam Curran was man-of-the-match in the first Test at Birmingham, while Chris Woakes, who replaced Stokes in the second Test, won man of the match at Lord’s. Given the problem of plenty, Bayliss said whoever misses ought to consider himself unlucky. “It’s a good position to be in from that point of view. Whether he plays or not, we’ve got some guys in form in the team. It’s going to be a difficult decision to make whoever misses out, whether it’s Ben or someone else,” he said.

Bayliss has urged troubled all-rounder Stokes to make a public apology after his acquittal for affray. He revealed that Stokes had apologised to his team-mates in New Zealand earlier this year and said a public apology might be round the corner.

‘Injury-hit Kohli more dangerous’

He might be recovering from a back injury, but Virat Kohli could become more dangerous as a player when the India skipper turns up for his team in the third Test, feels England coach Trevor Bayliss.

Kohli did not take the field on the fourth day of the second Test because of a back injury. Bayliss said he isn’t worried about Kohli’s fitness issues. “It could mean he’s more of a dangerous player. Through history there are a lot of players who have played with an injury and scored runs and taken wickets,” Bayliss said.

“I don’t know if that focuses the mind more but I have just seen him take some slip catches without any problems, so I’m sure he’ll be playing. That won’t change our approach to the way we play him.” Bayliss hoped the conditions at Trent Bridge would be similar to Lord’s.

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