England head coach Trevor Bayliss has called on Ben Stokes to make a public apology over the events which led to his eventual acquittal for affray.
Stokes was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday, almost 11 months after being arrested following a brawl outside a nightclub in the Clifton area of the city.
Within two hours of the end of the case, England announced their premier all-rounder was being added to the 13-man squad for the third Specsavers Test against India at Trent Bridge, from which he had been omitted the previous day.
England will clinch the five-match series if they win again in Nottingham to add to their 2-0 lead. Stokes was back at practice yesterday afternoon – and, shortly before he joined his colleagues at nets again, it was Bayliss’ duty to speak on the matter for the first time on behalf of Joe Root’s team and the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Bayliss, who reported a final call is yet to be made on whether Stokes returns to a winning side this weekend, acknowledged a public apology should and probably would be forthcoming. He pointed out Stokes has already apologised to his team-mates, in New Zealand last winter when he rejoined them after having to miss the Ashes while a criminal charge was being considered following the incident which took place during a one-day international series against West Indies.
Asked if Stokes should make the same comments publicly, Bayliss said: “Certainly.
“I think it was important to actually apologise to the boys in the team, management of the team and management at the ECB, who had to go through a lot of extra activities to work our way through it.”
As to whether that will be relayed to a wider audience, the Australian added: “I’m sure something will be forthcoming.
“That’ll be up to Ben and his management team, I suppose.
“But certainly, when he came out to New Zealand after the Ashes tour that he missed, he addressed the players in the changing room when he first arrived. So from our point of view, his contrition was evident for the boys in the team.”
Stokes has already missed six Test matches, including last week’s at Lord’s, which clashed with his court case, and 11 limited-overs fixtures for England, as a result of the night out in Bristol.
He and white-ball batsman Alex Hales, who was present during the fracas, will be subject to a Cricket Discipline Commission hearing, conducted at arm’s length from the ECB, to decide whether any further penalty is appropriate from their employers.
In the meantime, it seems highly likely Stokes will be playing again this weekend, although Bayliss stopped well short of confirming that.
He said: “There’s nothing automatic about selections – we’ll see how he is mentally as well as physically. He’s not played for a couple of weeks. It’s a difficult decision to make... whoever misses out, whether it’s Ben or anyone else.”
India coach Ravi Shastri sees no reason why Stokes should miss the game – and he wants his team to play against him.
“He is a terrific cricketer – we would like to play against top cricketers,” said Shastri. “If he is cleared by the courts, what’s the reason for him not to play?
“If I was in England’s position, I would have wanted him to play.”
That does not mean India will necessarily desist from reminding Stokes of recent events once they take the field.
“This team is not worried... it will give you back as good as it gets,” added Shastri, who was also able to report India captain Virat Kohli will be fit after recovering from a back strain which laid him low towards the end of the tourists’ innings defeat at Lord’s last weekend.
Shastri insists too that no faith has been lost in vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, one of several batsmen short of runs.
“I don’t think it’s fair to single out any one player – batsmen from both teams have struggled,” he said.
“Conditions have been tough, right through this series. But that’s where character comes into play and discipline comes into play, the resolve to know where your off-stump is, leave a lot of balls, be prepared to look ugly and dirty and show some grit.
“It’s a case of mental resolve. He is one of our pillars, (and) he will remain one of our pillars.”