England v India Test - Men's
Stokes picked to face India at Trent Bridge
First Test hero Sam Curran axed to make way for allrounder's return after court case
18 August 2018, 09:15 AM AEST
England changed a winning side ahead of the third Test against India at Trent Bridge by recalling Ben Stokes just 72 hours after he was cleared on a charge of affray.
Stokes has long been England's premier allrounder and just hours after his acquittal by a jury at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday, he was added to a 13-man squad.
Having brought him back at the earliest opportunity, after Stokes missed England's innings and 159-run rout of India at Lord's last week because of a clash with his court case, it was always likely he would play at Trent Bridge, where the third Test starts on Saturday.
England captain Joe Root confirmed his return on Friday, saying Stokes had been selected in place of left-arm swing bowler Sam Curran as the hosts sought a win that would give them an unassailable 3-0 lead in this five-match series.
Curran was omitted despite having impressed with both bat and ball in a series where he was named player of the match after an all-round effort that included a fifty and four wickets in England's 31-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston – where Stokes also starred with the ball.
But Curran was always in line to make way, given England's reluctance to drop Adil Rashid, their lone specialist spinner, and because Chris Woakes – Stokes's replacement – scored a maiden Test century and took key wickets at Lord's.
Root said omitting 20-year-old Surrey rising star Curran had been "one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make as captain".
But he justified the recall of pace-bowling allrounder Stokes, who averaged 34 with the bat and 32 with the ball in 43 Tests by saying: "He has been made available for selection. From that point on it was about is he good enough to play for England?
"He has been a fine performer for us for a long period of time. You don't want to leave someone like Ben out."
"He offers so much to this group on and off the field," added top-order batsman Root.
"He is a big part of our team and I can see him putting in just as he always does and he has the ability to change the game. Hopefully, that can be the case this week."
James Anderson has long enjoyed playing at Trent Bridge, having taken 60 Test wickets at an average of under 19 at Nottinghamshire's headquarters, where conditions are often conducive to swing bowling.
Anderson, England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker, now needs just 11 more at this level to surpass retired Australia great Glenn McGrath's tally of 563, currently the most by any pace bowler in Test cricket.
"I think there's no disputing that Jimmy is one of the best bowlers of all time – not just in this current generation, but since the game began," said Root of the 36-year-old Lancashire star, a veteran of 140 Tests.
India may give a Test debut to Rishabh Pant in place of fellow wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik as they bid to bolster their batting – a longstanding problem area for England as well given their fallible top-order.
Meanwhile, paceman Jasprit Bumrah, yet to play in this series after fracturing a thumb in a Twenty20 international against Ireland in Dublin on June 27, could be recalled at the expense of left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
India captain Virat Kohli said Bumrah, who has taken 14 wickets at 25 in three Tests, all in South Africa since making his debut in Cape Town in January, embodied the "backs to the wall" mentality his team now required.
"He's one guy who's really aggressive – he wants to take the situation front on and basically make the batsmen feel uncomfortable," said Kohli, who insisted he had recovered from the back trouble that plagued him at Lord's.
"That's been his biggest strength and he relishes the challenge whenever given an opportunity."