ALL-ROUNDER Ben Stokes has been backed to provide the “X-factor and vigour” that England selectors hope will lift the team from their malaise in next week’s first Test against India.
Fit-again Stokes was yesterday named in a 13-man squad for the match at Trent Bridge, the only addition to the team that suffered an agonising defeat in last month’s two-Test series with Sri Lanka.
The Durham star was the sole bright spot in England’s dismal winter Ashes tour of Australia and could take the place of Chris Jordan, who disappointed in the last Test at Headingley.
“Ben’s strength and vigour will add to the whole environment and it will be fantastic for him,” said selector James Whitaker. “He is a vivacious character, he’s got some X-factor, he’s fantastic on flat wickets and gets some movement off the pitch. We’re excited about Ben.”
Whitaker defended the decision to omit Stokes for the Sri Lanka series despite the 25-year-old being fit enough to shine for his county. “We didn’t have any regrets,” he added.
“We felt at that stage he needed a few more overs under his belt.”
India’s batsmen enjoyed a fruitful workout on day two of their tour match against Derbyshire yesterday. Cheteshwar Pujara and the uncapped Stuart Binny scored 81 each as India recovered from 18-2 to declare on 341-6 in response to 326-5 declared.