LONDON: Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes was recalled by England as the selectors named a 13-man squad on Wednesday for next week’s first Test against India at Trent Bridge.
Stokes was the only addition to the 12-man party chosen for England’s recent 1-0 loss in a two-Test series at home to Sri Lanka.
The 23-year-old Stokes was not chosen for that short campaign while he regained full fitness following an embarrassingly self-inflicted wrist injury.
So angry was Stokes at being dismissed for a golden duck against the West Indies in Barbados, he punched a dressing room locker at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown and promptly broke a bone in his hand.
That forced him to miss the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and the start of the English season.
Since then the seamer has taken a career-best seven for 67 for Durham against Sussex — and 10 wickets in the match — although his batting has been less impressive with 172 runs at 28.66 in four Championship matches.
However, Stokes has already shown his ability at international level by providing England with rare highlights during their 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia when he scored a maiden hundred in his second Test at Perth and took eight wickets in Sydney.
Now Stokes is set to compete with fellow all-rounders Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes, who didn’t feature in the Sri Lanka series, for a place in the England side.
Alastair Cook, despite a barrage of criticism over his tactics during Sri Lanka’s 100-run second Test win at Headingley last week and concerns over his own form, retained the England captaincy.
England again decided against including a frontline spinner, with slow bowling duties in the absence of retired off-break bowler Graeme Swann again entrusted to Moeen Ali, primarily a batsman who scored a maiden century in only his second Test at Headingley.
Ali took three wickets in the Sri Lanka series but Cook seemed reluctant to use him, thereby increasing the workload on his seamers.
And with the five Tests against India set to take place within the space of just 42 days, a lack of overs from Ali and occasional spinner Joe Root on what are set to be dry pitches threatens to run the risk of one of England’s quicks breaking down and so reduce their chances of a morale-boosting series win.
Alastair Cook, Sam Robson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Matt Prior, Chris Jordan, Stuart Broad, Liam Plunkett, James Anderson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes