Suspended allrounder Ben Stokes was included in England’s squad for their ODI series against Australia, with coach Trevor Bayliss bracing for “a circus” if he is cleared to play.
Stokes is currently banned from international cricket while British police probe his involvement in a late-night fight outside a Bristol nightclub, and it remained in doubt whether he would play.
Batsman Alex Hales, who was caught up in the same bots, was also named in the 16-man squad for the five-game series, starting in Melbourne on January 14.
Selectors said in a statement they were advised to name their strongest squad and picked the pair accordingly.
The statement reads: “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.”
Coach Bayliss admits Stokes’ potential appearance in Australia could be a distraction for the team.
He explains: “Whenever he comes back that’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.”
He adds: “We’ve got to adjust to that at some stage.”
New Zealand-born Stokes did not travel to Australia with the rest of the squad for the Ashes Test series and has missed the first two in Brisbane and Adelaide, with England losing both.