Bayliss makes no promises to Stokes over vice-captaincy role
England coach will decide soon on role for New Zealand matches.
Ben Stokes’ return as England’s vice-captain is far from assured as management discussions loom on whether to stick with James Anderson instead.
Coach Trevor Bayliss and Joe Root will be first to consider if Stokes should reassume the responsibility he had to forego when he became unavailable for this winter’s Ashes.
While the all-rounder waited for almost four months to hear if he would be charged after being arrested following a late-night altercation outside a Bristol nightclub last September, he was unable to join England’s campaign in Australia.
In his absence, Anderson took over as Root’s deputy as the urn was lost 4-0.
Stokes returned for the one-day international series against New Zealand, which culminates in Saturday’s decider in his native Christchurch, only after pleading not-guilty to affray at Bristol Magistrates Court last month.
England must therefore decide soon if he regains the vice-captaincy for two matches against the Kiwis beginning in Auckland on March 22.
Asked if it will be a tricky call, Bayliss said: “Yes and no.
“He was named as vice-captain because of his knowledge of the game and what he means to the team.
“But I thought Jimmy Anderson did a pretty good job during that Ashes series.”
Bayliss was equivocal over whether the decision will be his and Root’s, or may have to be validated by England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss and chief executive Tom Harrison.
“I haven’t spoken to Strauss and Tom about it,” he said. “But Joe and I would have a chat about it first.”
Stokes, meanwhile, has returned in encouraging form – no surprise to Bayliss that he is not distracted by off-the-field events.
“There are always guys who are able to put those things aside and get stuck back into it,” he said. “I think we have seen over these games that he has (done that).”
There would have been a more exaggerated crowd reaction had he returned mid-Ashes.
“It’s probably been a bit easier for him to sneak back in (here),” added Australian Bayliss.
“But with Ben, I don’t think it would have made any difference. It might have encouraged him even more to do well.”
While Stokes is back in all formats – albeit with a court case in his diary too over the coming months – two other white-ball regulars will not be playing any Test cricket.
Bayliss sees Alex Hales and Adil Rashid’s decisions to sign limited-overs only contracts with their counties as a sign of the times.
“It’s totally up to them,” he said, before voicing qualms over whether the switch will pay off.
“I said to [Hales] when it came out that, not playing red-ball cricket, I hope that doesn’t affect him.
“If he plays red-ball cricket, you get a quantity of balls [to hit in the middle], and that helps with any form of the game.
“He had to weigh that up with going away and having the extra time to work on his white-ball skills.
“Only time will tell. If it doesn’t work, I hope he is able to make a decision to come back into red-ball cricket.”
Bayliss will be disappointed if other England players follow Hales and Rashid, but understands why they may.
“It is a big decision – basically taking themselves out of the running for Test cricket.
“Certainly, I’d be disappointed, but I do understand how those players come to those decisions – especially the guys who are eligible for all three forms of the game.
“The amount of cricket we have played, it’s becoming almost impossible to play all those games.”