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England batsman Joe Root has backed all-rounder Ben Stokes to put his troubles behind him and recapture his form when he makes his long-awaited international comeback.
Stokes has been out of the national team since he was allegedly involved in a street brawl outside the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol last September.
The 26-year-old even appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray.
With Stokes being given permission to travel to New Zealand, there is a chance he could feature in the first game of the five-match ODI series, which begins on Sunday in Hamilton.
Having spoken with Stokes, Root revealed that the all-rounder is eager to don the England jersey once again.
“I look at Ben now and he’s extremely excited to start playing cricket for England again,” Root told Sky Sports as quoted by Yahoo. “He’s obviously a close friend of mine, I’ve played a lot of cricket with him. He’s done some magnificent things for England in the past and I look at what he’s capable of doing in the future.
“That’s the way I’m seeing Ben now, I’m sure he’s got a lot of drive and determination to put in some really strong performances in the future and to almost get back to where he was at the back end of the summer.”
Meanwhile, Root also touched on the off-field incidents that stole the headlines during the Ashes series against Australia.
Root, who captained England in the series, had to endure two embarrassing incidents as wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow headbutted Australia opener Cameron Bancroft, while Ben Duckett, who was playing for the England Lions, poured a drink over pace bowler James Anderson’s head.
“You know in Australia, it’s a very difficult place to go and win and you’re going to have to be at your best throughout the whole tour,” Root said. “There were incidences off the field which obviously didn’t help us and distracted a little bit from our cricket, especially for people watching back home.
“That wasn’t great for our image as a team after what had happened, and it could look like it fell into the way we went about approaching the cricket (but) I don’t think it played too much of a part in the result.”