Ben Stokes doubtful for first ODI against Kiwis: Bayliss

Johannesburg: England coach Trevor Bayliss has said that all-rounder Ben Stokes is unlikely to play in the first game of the five-match ODI series against New Zealand, starting on February 25 at the Seddon Park, Hamilton.

Stokes will hence be joining his side in New Zealand soon, after being pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray in the Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday.

Reflecting on the same, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said that though the all-rounder would soon rejoin his national side in New Zealand, he would not play in the ongoing T20I Tri-Series, which includes New Zealand and Australia.

“He hasn’t played for a while so it is not as if we can bring him straight back for these T20s,” Sport24 quoted Bayliss, as saying.

Bayliss also hinted that Stokes might also miss the first ODI against the Black Caps, but added that they are hoping to see him joining the squad for the remainder of the tour.

“It’s just up and in the air. We’ll have to wait and see how he is travelling, with the practice. We have got to get him up to speed and hopefully during this one-day series we can get him back into the team,” he asserted.

Expressing confidence over Stokes’ performance, Bayliss said that he is certain that the Durham player would put behind all the off-field issues and perform at his best when he would play again for his squad.

Bayliss said,” “There have been players in the past who’ve had off-field issues and been able to put that aside and concentrate on cricket. I’ve got a feeling he will be one of the guys who can put it aside and perform.”

The 26-year-old has not played for the country since the Bristol incident, where he was involved in a late-night brawl outside a nightclub in September last year and was subsequently charged with affray.

He was earlier forced to miss the Ashes series against Australia after being suspended indefinitely by the ECB, as the outcome of the police investigation into the incident was pending.