All-rounder Ben Stokes has been recalled to the England squad for the first test against India, starting at Trent Bridge next Wednesday.
The Durham 23-year-old was one of the few bright spots in England’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia but missed the recent series defeat by Sri Lanka, having just returned from a two-month injury layoff after punching a dressing room locker in the West Indies.
“He’s done really well over the last couple of weeks,” national selector James Whitaker told Sky Sports.
“In particular, he’s probably bowled over 100 overs. He’s really in prime form with the ball, over the last championship match anyway.
“It’s great news for him and England that he will come into a 13-man squad, he’s going to bolster the seam attack for Alastair (Cook) and Peter (Moores).”
The New Zealand-born Stokes took 10 wickets in his last County Championship outing, and will compete with Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes for a place in England’s seam attack.
“Ben held his hand up and did remarkably well for a young player, but he’s been frustrated at the start of the season from what happened at the back end of the winter, and now he comes with full vigor into our squad,” Whitaker said.
Stokes is the only player added from the Sri Lanka series, with fellow all-rounder Moeen Ali remaining as the main spin option.
Woakes, who did not play against Sri Lanka, also keeps his place in the squad.
England suffered for not having a front-line spin bowler in the 1-0 series loss, with Cook, the captain, coming under fire for appearing reluctant to use Moeen at times.
Whitaker said it was natural that it would take time for the captain to trust new players, and that they had the balance of the attack right for the English pitches.
“Ever since Graeme Swann stood down, everybody had been used to the success that he brought English cricket over the last three or four years, he was remarkable,” he said.
“So to get a like-for-like we knew we were going to have to rebalance the team, look at different options of how we went forward into the summer and beyond.
“We think we’ve got a good balance now on the attacking wickets we can play on in England. Moeen Ali will help the spin department, and so will Joe Root. It is a bit of a different way of balancing the team but with four quality seamers who all bat by and large as well, we have a lot of depth.
“Whenever new players come into a team and a captain takes them on board it will take a bit of time for them to get confidence, to know how they operate and to build a relationship. We’ve got every confidence Alastair will do that. Certainly Moeen’s shown with the bat how he can fit into this environment and be confident.”
It is the first time since 1959 that India have played a five-test series in England.
Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary continued…