ALL-ROUNDER Ben Stokes insists his bad-boy past is firmly behind him and he is ready to help England square the Ashes series in Australia next week.
Following Jonathan Trott’s return home due to a stress related illness, Stokes, also an able bowler, is among the leading candidates to fill the vacancy in the batting order, set to be at No6, with either Ian Bell or Joe Root likely to move up the order.
And should the 22-year-old earn selection for the second Test, which begins in Adelaide on Thursday, it would mark an astonishing turn in fortune.
While on an England Lions squad tour Down Under in February, Stokes was sent home from Australia, along with team-mate Matt Coles, for ignoring a written warning regarding his persistent late night drinking.
His indiscretion came just over a year after Stokes was arrested for obstructing a policeman in the line of duty, again during a boozy night out.
Stokes apologised at the time and vowed to “bounce back”, and his role in helping Durham win the County Championship title this year goes a long way to suggesting he is indeed a reformed character.
Stokes scored 615 runs and took 42 wickets in 13 matches. Subsequently, he was rewarded with a place among the England squad for the one-day international series against Australia in the summer.
And the New Zealand-born batsman now feels ready to stamp his authority on the Test match stage.
“When I did get back [from Australia in February], I set out to put everyone’s mind right, to make sure that they knew that I did want to play for England and get back into the team,” he said.
“I think I’ve done the right things and gone about it the right way. Here I am today, so it’s brilliant.
“Obviously there is going to be a place up for grabs. Whoever does take that role will definitely have the skills to come in and fill that spot.”
England were due to begin a two-day tour match against a Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI this morning at Traeger Park.