England's Ben Stokes plays against New Zealand during their ICC Twenty20 2016 Cricket World Cup semifinal match at the Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Cricket: Stokes Included in England’s Ashes squad

LONDON, (AFP) – Ben Stokes was included in England’s 16-man squad for the Ashes tour of Australia announced Wednesday despite his recent arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.     Durham all-rounder Stokes was dropped for Wednesday’s fourth one-day international against West Indies at The Oval — the venue for the Ashes squad announcement after being arrested early on Monday in Bristol.    That followed England’s win in the third ODI in the southwest city on Sunday.    Stokes, 26, remains under investigation after being released without charge.    England national selector James Whitaker later told the BBC that Stokes would remain in his position of vice-captain to Test skipper Joe Root.    The squad contained three uncapped players in 23-year-old Somerset fast bowler Craig Overton, 20-year-old Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane, who will provide spin support to Moeen Ali, and Surrey wicket-keeper Ben Foakes, 24, included as cover for first-choice gloveman Jonny Bairstow.    Meanwhile there were recalls for middle-order batsmen James Vince and Gary Ballance despite the pair’s struggles during their previous Test stints.    Vince was dropped at the end of the 2016 English season northern summer following a poor run of seven Tests that saw him post a top score of 42 in 11 innings against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.    This season Vince is averaging a modest 34.82 in first-class cricket for Hampshire but England believe his game will be suited to Australian pitches.    Ballance only managed 85 runs in two Tests against South Africa at an average of 21.25 before he suffered a fractured finger.    Essex batsman Tom Westley, who failed to convince at number three during this season’s home series against South Africa and West Indies was dropped, while there was no recall for Durham paceman Mark Wood.    Toby Roland-Jones was ruled out following the Middlesex seamer’s recent stress fracture of the back.        – ‘Ultimate test’ –    ===================        “A tour of Australia is the ultimate test for our squad,” said Whitaker.    “We have provided Joe Root and (coach) Trevor Bayliss with a well-balanced squad with options in all areas.”    This has been Root’s first season as Test captain, with the Yorkshire batsman overseeing home series wins against South Africa (3-1) and West Indies (2-1).    “After a successful summer, having won the Test series against South Africa and West Indies, there is real competition for places and we have selected a squad that will work hard and compete against Australia, aiming to win the Ashes,” added former England batsman Whitaker.    Overton has been involved in the England set-up this season with the Lions (A team) and the T20 squad.    “He will now get his chance at Test level,” said Whitaker.     “He has taken 43 Championship wickets this summer and will relish playing in Australian conditions.    “The selectors are backing James Vince to make an impact on his recall to the Test squad. He is a quality stroke-player and we believe his game will suit the Australian pitches.”    Foakes, widely regarded as one of the best keepers in county cricket, was included after scoring more than 680 runs in the Championship this season at an average of 45.33.    In addition to Australian Bayliss’s regular staff, the England and Wales Cricket Board also announced Wednesday that former New Zealand paceman Shane Bond had been appointed as a fast-bowling consultant.    England have a vacancy for a bowling coach after Ottis Gibson left to become the new head coach of South Africa and Bond will be with the squad up until the end of the second Test.    Former England one-day captain Paul Collingwood, Stokes’s captain at Durham, will also take a coaching role during the Test series.    England hold the Ashes after a 3-2 win on home soil in 2015.    But their last tour of Australia saw them suffer a 5-0 Ashes defeat in 2013/14.    Their last Test series triumph in Australia was in 2010/11 when Collingwood was a member of a side captained by current ECB England cricket director Andrew Strauss that won 3-1.    England are due to travel to Australia on October 28, with the first of five Tests set to start in Brisbane on November 23.

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