New Zealand v England: Ben Stokes’ return is a ‘huge boost’, says Joe Root

New Zealand v England: Ben Stokes’ return is a ‘huge boost’, says Joe Root
Stokes last played for England’s Test team against West Indies in September
New Zealand v England: First Test
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Dates: 22-26 March
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Ben Stokes’ return to England’s Test team will give a “huge boost” to the side, says captain Joe Root.

Stokes missed England’s 4-0 Ashes loss after an incident outside a nightclub in September and appeared in court in February charged with affray.

The 26-year-old has not played for the Test team since September but is set to return in the first Test against New Zealand which starts on Thursday.

“He’s so excited and you don’t want to take that out of him,” Root said.

“It is really good to see players with that attitude and so desperate to come back in and prove a point and do well.”

Stokes returned to England duty after a five-month absence last month in the one-day series against New Zealand.

The all-rounder scored 141 runs and took five wickets in the five-match series.

“You get three players with Ben, and certainly on his day probably the best three players within the side all in one,” Root said.

“It is a huge boost to have him coming back into the team.

“We have to be quite careful and make sure he is absolutely ready and be quite flexible with how we use him, especially in the first Test.”

‘Series can change our momentum’

The series is Joe Root’s fourth as England captain

The two-Test series is Root’s side’s first since their heavy Ashes defeat in Australia.

England have failed to win any of their past 11 Tests away from home, losing nine and drawing two in a run stretching back to October 2016, and have not won an away series since the 2015-16 tour of South Africa.

“It is a big series for us coming from a big defeat like the Ashes, so we need to make sure we put that right and come away with some success overseas – because it’s not happened for a while,” Root said.

“It has been a tough winter until now, but we have two Test matches to put a different stamp on it and change our momentum.”

Root scored a century in England’s second warm-up match and was the only England player to reach three figures in the two drawn matches against a New Zealand XI.

The match starting on Thursday at Eden Park in Auckland will be the first day-night Test to be played in New Zealand.

New Zealand v England Test series
First Test: Dates: 22-26 March Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Second Test: Dates: 29 March – 2 April Venue: Hagley Oval, Christchurch

New Zealand squad: Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling (wk), Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.

England squad: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (capt), Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Foakes (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson, Jack Leach.

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