Nottingham : England captain Joe Root on Friday welcomed all-rounder Ben Stokes into the playing eleven but said leaving out the promising Sam Curran for the third Test against India was one of his “most difficult” selection decisions.
Curran will miss out as the hosts look to press their 2-0 advantage over in the five-match series. “It’s probably one of the most difficult selections I’ve had to make as captain,” Root told reporters at the pre-match press conference.
“Sam misses out – Ben comes into the side. The difficult part is the fact that everyone is performing so well. 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 – and at the start of the series I said to the team for us to win a five-match series against the best side in the world, it’s going to take more than just 11 players.”
Root underlined that the decision to include Stokes in the Test squad was made by the selectors and from there onwards it was just a matter of physical fitness. “That was a decision made above our heads. From that point on it was about is he good enough to play for England. He has been a fine performer for us for a long period of time. You don’t want to leave someone like Ben out. He offers so much to this group on and off the field. ”
England won the first Test by 31 runs and the second by a convincing margin of an innings and 159 runs, the game Stokes missed due to the affray trial. “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.
“We’ve got a huge opportunity in front of us, but ultimately – as we have so far – we’ve got to start well first morning, and then try to carry that forward,” Root said.
Curran was one of the influential performers in the team’s win in the series opener. About Curran, Root added, “It’s about us as a squad performing collectively for five games, and he’s played a massive part in the first two. It might be that he comes back in later on. On this occasion, he’s unfortunate to miss out.”
Senior pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad will play their third successive Test. This is Broad’s home ground and Anderson is on the cusp of becoming the most successful fast bowler in Test cricket, with Australia’s Glenn McGrath in his sights. “It gives us a great chance of winning the game, so it would obviously be really nice (if Anderson takes the 11 wickets needed to go past McGrath here).
“You’re talking about two of the all-time great bowlers. Whether it happens now or further down the line, I think there’s no disputing that Jimmy is one of the best bowlers of all time – not just in this current generation, but since the game began.”