Root has no doubt in Stokes’ ability

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England Test skipper Joe Root has backed allrounder Ben Stokes to make an impact as he returns to the team for the first time since being acquitted of affray in a Bristol court earlier this week.

Root and the management team have opted for Stokes in the Test XI ahead of first Test hero Sam Curran.

The selectors and skipper had a tough decision to make given match-winning displays by incumbent allrounders Curran and Chris Woakes in the first two matches.

Speaking after naming England’s XI for Saturday’s third Test Root expressed confidence in Stokes after having a long chat with the allrounder this week.

“It was just me and him,” Root revealed. “And I asked him where he was at. He told me he’s desperate to get out there. I felt he was ready to play. I’ve known him since we were both really quite young and I feel very confident he will be able to go out and put in a strong performance. No, I’ve no doubt.”

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Root would not say whether he thought Stokes should apologise to England cricket fans for his role in the nearly year-long saga that followed his arrest in Bristol in September of last year.

“There are certain things that should be kept within the group and I will leave it there,” Root added. “It is up to Ben [whether to offer any sort of public apology] and I am sure when it’s the right time he will say what he feels he needs to say.”

Root admitted that Curran was gutted to be left out but the skipper feels the decision was the right one given Stokes’ pedigree as an international.

“Sam wasn’t delighted,” Root said, “but he took it extremely well and very maturely for a young guy who is desperate to play.

“The difficult part is the fact that everyone is performing so well. Sam has done an exceptional job throughout the series. It made it very difficult to leave him out; probably one of the most difficult selections I’ve had to make as captain. He’s been fantastic when he’s played and I still feel he has a big part to play throughout this series to come.

“But Ben played exceptionally well at Edgbaston. He’s in a really good place to go out and play for England.”

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