Ben Stokes should go straight back into the Test team as long as he feels ready, according to former England captain Nasser Hussain.
Stokes was cleared of affray on Tuesday after a week-long case at Bristol Crown Court, relating to a late-night fight in the city following last September’s one-day international against the West Indies.
He was quickly added to England’s squad for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge, which starts on Saturday.
Hussain told Sky Sports News: “As long as [coach Trevor] Bayliss and [captain Joe] Root feel that, mentally, Stokes is ready for selection they should pick him.
“Ben is most comfortable, most happy, playing cricket for England. If he says he is available, Joe – who knows him well – will want him back.”
Stokes’ recall is not certain, however. England enjoyed a dominant win without him in the second Test at Lord’s with his understudy, Chris Woakes, playing a starring role with 137 runs and match figures of four for 43.
“I certainly wouldn’t leave out Chris Woakes,” said Hussain. “It will probably come down to the two young lads – Sam Curran and Ollie Pope.”
Surrey batsman Pope made 28 on debut at Lord’s while club-mate Curran added a rapid 40 and one wicket to his 63 and four for 74 in the first Test at Edgbaston.
Stokes and his ODI team-mate, Alex Hales, who was also involved in the incident in Bristol but was not charged, could still face disciplinary action after the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed an investigation by the Cricket Discipline Commission can now re-open.
The CDC operates at ‘arm’s length’ from the ECB, as spelled out in background information on the governing body’s website, and can impose penalties ranging from a caution as to future conduct or a reprimand, to an unlimited fine or suspension and termination of registration.
Hussain, though, said that most importantly Stokes must take responsibility for his own future actions.
“The [Cricket Discipline] Commission is important, but Ben Stokes having a look at himself is important,” said Hussain, pictured.
That’s a view mirrored by former England spinner Vic Marks, who believes that Stokes’ personality is a huge asset to his play, but feels he needs to harness it properly, both on and off the field.
“He’s like a lot of great cricketers that I’ve come across in my time in that on the field, he feels invincible and that’s a massive asset to any team,” Marks told BBC Radio 5Live.
“Just occasionally, I’ve seen that feeling spill over into activities beyond the field. That’s when it gets a bit dangerous, so he needs to recognise that, I think. With good guidance and a bit of self-assessment, he could easily become one of the great, great cricketers that England have ever had.”
Meanwhile, England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow expects James Anderson to push for a prestigious record at another happy hunting ground this week.
The 36-year-old continues to defy his years, turning in one of the best performances of his career in the second Test demolition of India with match figures of nine for 43, while also becoming the first player to take 100 wickets at Lord’s.
Instead of plotting retirement he heads to Nottingham this week just ten wickets behind Australian great Glenn McGrath, the most prolific pace bowler in history with 563 scalps.
“Just take that last game at Lord’s...nine wickets for 43 runs. There’s no reason he can’t keep going, body permitting,” said Bairstow.
“His stats are speaking for themselves and there’s potential for him to break every record going for a seamer, I don’t think he’s too far off.”