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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

England's Ben Stokes looking good to make cricket Test comeback against New Zealand

England captain Joe Root stops short of naming Stokes in team to face Black Caps when he held captain's pre-match news conference at Eden Park on Wednesday

England all-rounder Ben Stokes could be playing in his first Test since getting into trouble last year. Stu Forster / Getty Images
England all-rounder Ben Stokes could be playing in his first Test since getting into trouble last year. Stu Forster / Getty Images

Ben Stokes remains on course to make his return to Test cricket against New Zealand in Auckland.

England captain Joe Root stopped short of naming Stokes in his team to face the Kiwis when he held his captain's pre-match news conference at Eden Park on Wednesday.

But barring any setback at or after evening nets, Stokes is sure to play in some capacity in the day-night fixture, his first Test in more than six months since his man-of-the-match performance in last September's series-sealing victory over West Indies at Lord's.

It was uncertain for several days whether he would be fit to bowl as well as bat against New Zealand, but on the evidence of practice so far this week he appears to have recovered sufficiently from his stiff back to fulfil his key all-rounder's role.

Stokes missed this winter's 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia, while he was waiting to hear if he would be charged following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September last year.

Only after he was charged with affray and then last month indicated a not-guilty plea in his first appearance at Bristol Magistrates' Court did the England and Wales Cricket Board announce the 26-year-old could rejoin his team-mates, initially for their one-day international series win over New Zealand en route to the two-Test series set to begin on Thursday.

Asked if he was able to name his team a day out, Root said: "I'm afraid not ... you'll have to wait till tomorrow for that."

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