When the news of Ben Stokes being cleared to return to international duty flashed up on my phone this morning, my reaction was one from a cricketing perspective and what great news it is for England.
Stokes was sorely missed during the Ashes and hopefully he will be ready to play when called upon for the second half of next month’s triangular Twenty20 series and then one-day and Test showdowns with New Zealand.
Whatever the rights or wrongs of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s handling of the situation, it will be fantastic for Test captain Joe Root and limited-overs counterpart Eoin Morgan to have the 26-year-old at their disposal again.
All-rounder Stokes will get his opportunity to contest the charge of affray, which he was served on Monday, in court in due course, but for now he has to ensure that going forward his off-field behaviour is impeccable.
It won’t be easy when he returns to the glare of the international spotlight – people will judge and try and wind him up – but he must take the mature route and mirror what he does on the field.
Until the incident in Bristol, he was going from strength to strength as a cricketer and provided so much balance to both England’s red and white-ball teams when in the side. Hopefully he can proceed in the right direction.
The irony of Stokes’s suspension from playing for England is that, had he been available, opener Jason Roy might not have even played in the opening one-day clash of the series against Australia in Melbourne on Sunday where he blasted a record-breaking 180.
Roy, a former Surrey team-mate of mine, had a tough time last year and was ditched from England’s white-ball side during the Champions Trophy after a barren spell of just 51 runs in eight one-day innings.
I remember being at a dinner with him and he was saying how his confidence had dropped and he had stopped enjoying the game for a while, before re-finding his love towards the end of the season.
The expectation on players like Roy is huge given the standards of limited-overs batting around the world. The top of the order is a great place to bat but also a tough one given the pressure on openers to get their sides off to an explosive start.
It’s the nature of the beast that players of Roy’s ilk will get a run of low scores from time to time, but to notch the highest ever score by an England player in a one-day international, at the MCG to boot, will mean his confidence is sky high.
I have written about Roy’s credentials before, and looking at the cricket England played in the Ashes, they are crying out for someone like him or Alex Hales; a player who can take a game away from the opposition.
England threw Dawid Malan into the Test team on the back of one-day exposure and he racked up some decent scores in the Ashes, but, for me, Roy needs to prove himself a little more in red-ball county cricket.