Ben Stokes is in line to make his England return next month after he and Alex Hales were provisionally selected for the one-day international series against Australia.
Stokes, currently playing for Canterbury Kings in New Zealand, and Hales have not been in action for England since September 24 after they were declared unavailable for international selection until further notice.
Match-winning all-rounder Stokes is not currently part of England’s ongoing Ashes Test tour as he waits to discover if he will be charged after his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm during a late-night fracas in Bristol on September 25.
Hales, also present during the incident outside a nightclub following England’s ODI win the previous day, will not face any charges.
The pair were named in a 16-man squad, accompanied by a brief England and Wales Cricket Board statement.
It read: “Selectors were given clear guidance to name their strongest squad and have made their selections accordingly.
“Both Alex Hales and Ben Stokes are included, though their involvement remains subject to any relevant legal or disciplinary developments in relation to the incident in Bristol in September.”
England are ready for the inevitable heightened attention that will surround Stokes’ return.
Coach Trevor Bayliss said: “That’s been discussed – but whenever he comes back it’s going to be a bit of a circus for sure.
“Whether it’s any more of a circus than it’s already been, it’s hard to say.
“If it happens, let’s just get on with it and take it on the chin.”
England’s management will doubtless be held to account over their handling of the situation.
Acknowledging that scrutiny, Bayliss added: “I’m sure there will be.
“There’s been a fair bit of scrutiny that’s come along with it in the first five or six weeks (of England’s Ashes tour) as well.
“But we’ve got to adjust to that at some stage.”
Asked about the timing of any clarification of Stokes’ situation, Bayliss said: “I’ve got absolutely no idea … (we’re) still waiting for the police report.”
ECB will convene a board meeting within 48 hours once police have announced the outcome of advice sought from the Crown Prosecution Service on whether to charge Stokes.
At that point, it will also be decided if any Ashes reinstatement could be in order – for the remainder of a series England already trail 2-0 with three to play.
Hales, meanwhile, will have to battle his way back into the ODI team – having vacated his opening position during last summer’s series win over West Indies and seen Jason Roy return in compelling form alongside Jonny Bairstow.
Bayliss said: “The two openers we had did very well, and it would be difficult to go against (them).
“We’ve got to take a decision now, and … the two guys who have taken over, I just think that’s the best way to go. I can’t see any changes there personally.”
Also back in the mix lower down the list is fast bowler Mark Wood, returning from his heel injury.
England do not intend to rest any Test regulars such as Joe Root, Bairstow, Moeen Ali or Chris Woakes in the ODIs against Australia but may consider a break during the Twenty20 tri-series which follows.
That squad will be announced after Christmas.
Source : TalkSport