Fairytale Of New York The Pogues
6 December 2017, 21:55
Ben Stokes has been named in England's 16-man squad for the five-match ODI series against Australia.
Stokes could be in line to make his England return next month after he and Alex Hales were provisionally selected for the one-day international series.
Stokes, currently playing for Canterbury Kings in New Zealand, and Hales have not been in action for England since September 24 after they were declared unavailable for international selection until further notice after a late-night fracas outside a nightclub in Bristol on September 25.
All-rounder Stokes is not currently part of England's ongoing Ashes Test tour as he waits to discover if he will be charged after his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.
Hales, also present during the incident outside a nightclub following England's ODI win the previous day, will not face any charges.
An official ECB statement read: "Selectors were given clear guidance to name their strongest squad and have made their selections accordingly.
"Both Alex Hales and Ben Stokes are included, though their involvement remains subject to any relevant legal or disciplinary developments in relation to the incident in Bristol in September."
England are ready for the inevitable heightened attention that will surround Stokes' return.
Coach Trevor Bayliss said: "That's been discussed - but whenever he comes back it's going to be a bit of a circus for sure.
"Whether it's any more of a circus than it's already been, it's hard to say. If it happens, let's just get on with it and take it on the chin."
ECB will convene a board meeting within 48 hours once police have announced the outcome of advice sought from the Crown Prosecution Service on whether to charge Stokes.
At that point, it will also be decided if any Ashes reinstatement could be in order - for the remainder of a series England already trail 2-0 with three to play.
Hales, meanwhile, will have to battle his way back into the ODI team - having vacated his opening position during last summer's series win over Windies and seen Jason Roy return in compelling form alongside Jonny Bairstow.
Also back in the mix lower down the list is fast bowler Mark Wood, returning from his heel injury.
England do not intend to rest Test regulars Joe Root, Bairstow, Moeen Ali or Chris Woakes in the ODIs against Australia but may consider giving some players a break during the Twenty20 tri-series which follows.
That squad will be announced after Christmas.
England 16-man squad for ODI series against Australia:
Eoin Morgan (C), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
(c) Sky News 2017: Ben Stokes named in England ODI squad for series with Australia