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England captain Joe Root has admitted that he is delighted all-rounder Ben Stokes will return to the Test team for the two-Test series against New Zealand, which begins with a day-night affair in Auckland on Thursday.
Stokes missed the Ashes after he was removed from the side for allegedly being involved in a street fight outside the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol last September.
Having fared well in the recent ODI series against New Zealand, Root is hoping Stokes makes his presence felt in the Test series as well.
“You get three players with Ben, and certainly on his day probably the best three players within the side all in one,” Root told Sky Sports. “It is a huge boost to have him coming back into the team. We have to be quite careful and make sure he is absolutely ready and be quite flexible with how we use him, especially in the first Test.
“He’s very focused on what he needs to do. Credit to him, he’s been able to manage that really well.”
With England having lost the Ashes 4-0 and only triumphed once in a Test series away from home in the last five years, which came in South Africa in 2015/16, Root knows how important the upcoming Test series is.
“It has been a tough winter until now, but we have two Test matches to put a different stamp on it and change our momentum,” he said. “It is a big series for us coming from a big defeat like the Ashes, so we need to make sure we put that right and come away with some success overseas – because it’s not happened for a while.”