Leeds: England will have no qualms about selecting Ben Stokes for next month's first Test against India, even though the match could finish just a day before the all-rounder's trial for affray begins.
Stokes was charged by prosecutors back in January following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September last year.
He has since pleaded not guilty to the charge, with his trial set to start on August 6 -- the day after the scheduled August 1-5 first Test at Birmingham's Edgbaston ground is due to end.
Given the trial is expected to last between five to seven days, Stokes, a dynamic middle-order batsman and lively seamer who is also one of England's best fielders, could well miss the second Test of a five-match series that starts at Lord's on August 9.
But Joe Root, England's Test captain, had no doubt about Stokes being in the right frame of mind to play at Edgbaston despite a looming court appearance.
"We are going to pick our best team and make sure we go into that series with the strongest squad," Root said.
"If Ben's fit to play, he'll be up for selection. He loves playing cricket, he loves being out there -- you can see when he's on a cricket field he's fully engaged with what's going on.
"He wants the ball all the time. He wants to be involved in what's happening and I'm sure that will be exactly the same throughout that game."
Root was speaking after both he and Stokes played in the England side that beat India by eight wickets in the third one-day international at Headingley on Tuesday to seal a 2-1 series win.
Star batsman Root scored exactly 100 not out on his Yorkshire home ground, his second successive century after his unbeaten 113 during England's 86-run series-levelling win at Lord's.
His latest hundred saw Root become England's outright most prolific century-maker in ODI cricket, with 13 hundreds from 110 innings at this level, surpassing by one the record he had shared previously with Marcus Trescothick.
Root, however, was far from satisfied, saying: "It's not a big thing, I don't think.
"It's obviously nice but I feel I've got a lot more to give this ODI team for hopefully a long time," he added.
"Hopefully, there's quite a few more (hundreds) left."...