Ben Stokes’ looming return for England will be a monumental boost to the team, batsman Dawid Malan has said. Stokes has joined his England team-mates in New Zealand after pleading not guilty to affray at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old has not played for his country since last September, missing the Ashes defeat in Australia and the subsequent limited-overs campaign. Stokes developed into a key player for England in all formats before his enforced absence and Malan says his return will be invaluable. The Middlesex star, who was England’s top scorer during the Ashes, said: ‘Stokesy is probably one of the best all-rounders in the world, if not the best all-rounder in the world.
He is pretty much a freak when he gets going. The confidence he brings to the team and the skill set he brings are unbelievable. ‘You know that you have got a match-winner there either with the ball or the bat. To have him and around the team is fantastic, especially in the shorter format. ‘It allows you to balance the team and play another batter or another bowler. Someone like Stokesy is invaluable. ‘When you are batting with him you see how good he actually is and the confidence he has is the main thing. He believes that in any situation he can win the game.’ Trevor Bayliss, the England head coach, admits his job has been made that bit more difficult over the past five months with Stokes not available for selection.
Trevor Bayliss, England’s head coach, will not rush Stokes back (Picture: Getty)
However, he is unwilling to rush Stokes back too soon, saying: ‘He hasn’t played for a while. We have got to get him up to speed and hopefully during this one-day series we can get him back into the team. ‘At this stage I’d have to say it was unlikely [he’ll play the first ODI]. We’ll have to wait and see how he is with travel, with practice. ‘The reason we are getting him out as soon as we can is that we can get him up to speed so he is available for selection as early as possible.