London, July 3 :
England added all-rounder Ben Stokes to an otherwise unchanged squad for the first Investec Test against India, starting at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on Aug 9.
The other 12 in the squad are the same that lost the second Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley in an exciting finish.
Durham all-rounder Stokes, 23, was the star performer during England’s disastrous Ashes in winter, taking 15 wickets and hitting a maiden Test century in the 5-0 whitewash inflicted by Australia.
Stokes was out of cricket at the start of the English summer season with a self-inflicted injury when he punched a locker during the limited-overs tour of West Indies.
It was a matter of time before he returned to the side and here he is after some sustained bowling for his county side in the last couple of weeks.
National selector James Whitaker said: “Ben’s been frustrated at the start of the season from what happened at the back end of the winter. Now he comes in with full vigour into our squad and he fully deserves it. Ben’s strength and vigour will add to the whole environment and it will be fantastic for him.
“He is a vivacious character, he’s got some ‘X factor’, he’s fantastic on flat wickets and gets some movement off the pitch. We’re excited about Ben,” The Telegraph quoted Whittaker as saying.
If Stokes has to get into the playing eleven it will probably at the expense of Chris Jordan as the other choice Moeen Ali, who bats at No 6, is the only spinner in the side, appears safe.
Moeen has shown great promise as a bowler, but skipper Alastair Cook doesn’t appear to have faith in hm.
“Ever since Graeme Swann stood down… we knew we had to rebalance the team, look at different options for the summer and beyond,” Whitaker said.
“We think we’ve got a good balance now for the type of wickets we play on in England. Moeen will help the spin department and so will Joe Root.
“It’s a different way of balancing the team. It might be difficult for the public to get used to but we’ve got three or four youngish spinners operating in country cricket who we, as selectors, feel are not quite ready yet. We have faith in Moeen and think he’ll perform well.”
The selectors have also shown their confidence in Cook though there has been all round criticism of his leadership. But Whitaker downplayed the issue.
“He’s a fine, fine leader. He’s scored 30 international hundreds, over 11,000 runs and he’s a quality player going through a period where he’s struggling to get beyond 20-25. He’s got our full backing.”
Alastair Cook (Essex, capt), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Matt Prior (Sussex, w/k), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Liem Plunkett (Yorkshire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).