England skipper Joe Root, on Friday, admitted that he never faced a tougher decision than leaving out Sam Curran of the playing eleven to make way for Ben Stokes for the third England vs India Test.
Stokes was found not guilty at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday. As a result, England named him in the squad for the Trent Bridge game. There were speculations that England not might make a hasty decision of including Stokes in the playing eleven. But it seems the temptation to play the star allrounder was just too much for the hosts.
They named him in the playing eleven and consequently dropped Curran, the 20-year old who had bagged the Man of the Match award in the first Test.
Speaking ahead of the third Test, Root admitted how tough the decision was. At the same time, Root made it clear how important Stokes is for the side.
“Probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as captain. That was a decision made above our heads,” said Root. “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. 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,” he added.
Root further said that much of just decision centred around Stokes’s mindset after his trial. The England skipper sat down with his teammate on Thursday and picked him in the team only after being assured by Stokes that he was in the right frame of mind.
“I asked him where he was at and he told me he was desperate to get out there.”
It is understood that Stokes addressed the team when he returned on Thursday (August 16), though Root did not reveal the conversation, saying:
“There are certain things that should be kept within the group”.
Root said that Stokes’ fitness was assessed as well before stating that the the prospect of an uncertain welcome from the crowd and other factors were considered too before making the final call.
“We obviously assessed his fitness as well, over the course of the two days, and made that call,” said Root. “He felt he was ready to play.
“It’s obviously been a long process and he’s found “not guilty” now. Who knows how people will react. I’m sure he’s very aware that there might be a slightly different reaction. That’s all part and parcel in making sure he’s ready to play. The one thing I can say is that I’ve known ben from being really quite young. And I feel very confident he’ll be able to put in a really strong performance. He looks strong and fresh and really raring to go,” he added.
England, meanwhile, are leading the series 2-0. A win at Trent Bridge will see them wrap up the five-match series with two matches still to go.