Joe Root is confident Ben Stokes can put his troubles behind him and recapture his “magnificent” form for England.
Durham all-rounder Stokes has not played for his country since his arrest in Bristol last September.
He pleaded not guilty to affray at Bristol Magistrates Court earlier this month and then flew out to New Zealand to link up with England for their five-match one-day international series which starts in Hamilton on Sunday.
Root, England’s Test captain, is pleased to have Stokes back in harness and told Sky Sports News: “I look at Ben now and he’s extremely excited to start playing cricket for England again.
“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.”
Stokes missed England’s Ashes defeat to Australia, which itself was dogged by disciplinary issues – batsman Ben Duckett was excluded from England Lions selection after pouring a pint over senior bowler James Anderson, while Jonny Bairstow had to answer for a bizarre headbutt greeting to Australia batsman Cameron Bancroft in a bar in Perth.
Root continued: “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.
“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.”