Stokes starred in the opening win at Edgbaston but missed the Second Test at Lord’s to stand trial in Bristol. Curran was man of the match in Birmingham, while Chris Woakes’s maiden century and four wickets saw him take the gong at Lord’s, leaving England with an extremely difficult decision, which was confirmed by Joe Root at his pre-match press conference today.
England are otherwise unchanged, with suggestions that Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid could make way – with the balance of the side changing – proving unfounded. Curran can be expected to return in the final two Tests at the Ageas Bowl and the Oval, when James Anderson and Stuart Broad may find themselves rested.
Trevor Bayliss, the head coach, said on Thursday that “whoever misses out will be very, very unlucky”. Curran, who has made a superb start to his Test career, is that unlucky cricketer.
Stokes was found not guilty of affray on Tuesday at Bristol Crown Court and immediately added to England’s squad. He and Alex Hales still have the independent but ECB-funded Cricket Discipline Committee’s hearing to answer but Tim O’Gorman, who chairs it, has still not confirmed the make-up of his panel or arranged dates.
It could be a month – after this series has ended – before the hearings, at which point the two players could be charged with bringing the game into disrepute, and until the outcome Stokes is free to play.
The whole saga has already seen him sit out six Tests and 11 white-ball internationals, but he could receive a further suspension. Hales, who has missed just two ODIs but was not charged or called as a witness in the court case, may receive further sanction, too.
Bayliss believed that the looming hearings would not affect Stokes or the squad. “For us it’s business as usual and it’s out of our hands, they [the CDC] will handle that,” he said.