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England head coach Trevor Bayliss has admitted that he is glad to have all-rounder Ben Stokes back in the national team.
Stokes appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray, which stems from a fight outside the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol last September.
The 26-year-old has not played any international cricket since then, but with the court confirming that he doesn’t need to appear for a hearing on March 12, he will leave for New Zealand on Wednesday.
However, it is unlikely he will feature in the ongoing T20 tri-series, which also involves Australia and New Zealand. Instead, Stokes is set to make his international comeback during the five-match ODI series against New Zealand, which begins on February 25 in Hamilton.
“I’m looking forward to getting him here,” Bayliss told Sky Sports. “It’s been a long process and to be honest we haven’t given it much thought at all other than we are looking forward to getting him back in and around the squad.
“I think he will fit back in pretty easily, he’s very well liked within the squad. He’s a big part of the squad and has been for a few years.
“We will try to get him up to speed so that he is available for the one-day series. At this stage that will mean extra practise days. That is why we are trying to get him here as early as possible so that he is available as early as possible.”
Bayliss added that England definitely missed Stokes during the Ashes as they were completely outplayed by Australia and ended up losing 4-0.
“We would have loved to have had him during the Ashes that’s for sure,” Bayliss said. “I think the biggest thing we have missed is being able to play six bowlers in our team.
“With him in the side we’ve got the opportunity to play five other bowlers plus him which gives the captain flexibility in any match so I think that’s what we missed over the last few months.”
The 55-year-old also believes that Stokes’ arrival won’t distract England or upset the atmosphere in the team.
“I don’t know, we will have to wait and see when it gets here,” he said. “We’ve lost the last three games so I don’t see how it can distract us anymore.”