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England batsman Dawid Malan has admitted that he is looking forward to welcoming all-rounder Ben Stokes back into the national team.
Stokes recently pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray while appearing at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
The affray charge stems from a street brawl outside the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol last September.
Stokes has not played international cricket since then, but he departed for New Zealand on Wednesday as he will not be required to attend a hearing on March 12.
Stokes is unlikely to play any part in the ongoing T20 tri-series, but there is a chance that he will make his international comeback during the five-match ODI series against New Zealand.
England head coach Trevor Bayliss confirmed that while he is delighted to have Stokes back, the all-rounder won’t feature in the first ODI against New Zealand on February 25 in Hamilton.
With Stokes set to return in the near future, Malan admitted that England have sorely missed the 26-year-old.
“Stokesy is probably one of the best all-rounders in the world, if not the best,” Malan was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. “He is pretty much a freak when he gets going.
“The confidence and skill set he brings to the team is unbelievable. You know you have 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 – the confidence he has is the main thing. He believes that in any situation he can win the game.”
Malan added that none of the members of the England team have spoken too much about Stokes’ absence.
“I think everyone forgot that it was his court case,” he said. “There was one point in the Tests when the boys were chatting around the changing room that he could still make the third [Ashes] Test. Apart from that, there’s been no chat since.
“I just think if it’s beyond your control you probably don’t speak about it. That doesn’t mean no one wants him. Everyone wants him here.”