Ben Stokes not assured of being reinstated as England vice-captain as Trevor Bayliss admits decision 'tricky'

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It is not certain that Stokes will reclaim the vice-captaincy.

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).”

Bayliss is not surprised that Stokes form on return has been encouraging.

Bayliss is not surprised that Stokes form on return has been encouraging.

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.”

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Kagiso Rabada the destroyer and other takeaways from South Africa and Australia second Test

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Rabada's sensational five-wicket burst put South Africa on top.

South Africa took the honours on the opening day of the second Test against Australia at Port Elizabeth. The hosts bowled out the visitors just just 243 runs in the first innings before finishing at 39-1 when stumps were called on Friday.

On a day where plenty happened, we look at the key talking points.

WARNER SHOWS THE GOOD AFTER THE BAD

Coming into the Test, the spotlight was always going to be on David Warner following the severe backlash to his ugly spat with Quinton de Kock in the first game.

The opening batsman started in an extremely cautious and watchful manner but then completely changed gears after the drinks interval.

He brought up a half-century in the first session itself as he stitched together a 98-run stand with Cameron Bancroft. The southpaw eventually perished in the second session for 63 after being castled by Lungi Ngidi but his determined innings was a splendid one considering the circumstances.

Warner showed a cool head on his way to a fluent half-century.

Warner showed a cool head on his way to a fluent half-century.

RABADA’S FIERY SPELL BREAKS AUSSIE MIDDLE-ORDER

The visitors were well placed at 161-3 with skipper Steve Smith looking in ominous form in the company of Shaun Marsh as tea approached on day one. In the third-to-last over of the lunch session, Kagiso Rabada had Smith caught plumb in front of the wickets with an in-swinging delivery to give the Proteas a small opening.

What he would do in his next over and the final one before tea, could well be the defining moments of the match. Coming around the wicket to a well-set Shaun Marsh, he swung the ball in sharply to trap the left-hander on the pads.

Three deliveries later, he had the junior Marsh, Mitchell, caught behind by De Kock with the help of some prodigious reverse-swing. Rabada then had Pat Cummins nicking behind to the wicket-keeper the very first ball after tea before Mitchell Starc prevented him from grabbing a sensational hat-trick.

Starc however, could do nothing about Rabada’s delivery a few overs later as a late out-swinger clipped the top of his off-stump.

In the space of just 18 deliveries, the Proteas youngster had a five-wicket haul and Australia had collapsed to 182-8.

A five-wicket haul in just 18 deliveries for the South African.

A five-wicket haul in just 18 deliveries for the South African.

RABADA WALKS ON THIN ICE

The South Africa pace spearhead has always been an aggressive customer with the ball in hand with his past send-offs to batsmen and transgressions earning him three demerit points from the ICC in the process.

That means that the 22-year-old is just another demerit point away from gathering an automatic one Test or two ODIs/T20is suspension, depending on whichever comes first.

After dismissing the Australia skipper, a clearly pumped-up Rabada gave him an aggressive send-off, bumping his shoulder as the batsman walked past him. It might well have been the nature of the overzealous celebration from Rabada that Smith opted to review the lbw decision even though the ball looked like it was crashing into middle-stump from the naked eye.

Replays confirmed that it was indeed an extremely hopeful review from the Aussie skipper but Rabada could very well be walking a tight-rope. A suspension could well be on the cards if the match-referee takes umbrage to the fiery celebration.

Rabada's send-off for Smith could well land him in trouble.

Rabada’s send-off for Smith could well land him in trouble.

PAINE MAKES AUSTRALIA’S TAIL WAG

Having put Australia on the ropes at 182-8 after Rabada’s sublime spell of bowling, South Africa might well come to rue the fact that they allowed the visitors to add 61 runs more to the total.

Aussie wicket-keeper Tim Paine has been chipping in with handy cameos for some time now and he did it once again on Friday. It was his rearguard action in the company of Nathan Lyon first and then Josh Hazlewood that allowed Australia to register a competitive first-innings score.

Their performance highlighted the gap between the tails of both sides, with the Aussies coming out well on top. In the previous Test, the visitors had claimed the last five wickets of South Africa for under six runs in both innings.

Australia's tail added some vital runs in the context of the game.

Australia’s tail added some vital runs in the context of the game.

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Jonny Bairstow says New Zealand series win will boost England's World Cup hopes

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Jonny Bairstow is ready for a World Cup rehearsal this weekend after England’s defeat to New Zealand in the fourth one-day international set up an all-or-nothing decider.

Eoin Morgan’s team are seeking a sixth successive ODI series win, and ninth in their last 10 attempts dating back more than two years.

Such has been their improvement since the last World Cup, though, they have rarely faced a must-win fixture in that time – and in fact, when they did in last summer’s Champions Trophy semi-final, they fluffed their lines against eventual tournament winners Pakistan in Cardiff.

Bairstow therefore rightly identifies Saturday’s match at Hagley Oval as an indicator of England’s progression towards their home World Cup campaign in 2019, when they will need knockout successes at some stage.

Asked if that was the case, he said: “Absolutely – it’s huge.”

England have got themselves into a tight spot after squandering the open-goal position Bairstow and Joe Root’s centuries put them in to seal the series there and then at Dunedin’s University Oval.

The Yorkshire pair powered England to 267 for one in the 38th over, and the brink of an unassailable 3-1 lead – only for a collapse of six wickets for 21 runs and then Ross Taylor’s brilliant 181 not out to turn the match around.

Bairstow nonetheless remains confident about their prospects against the Black Caps.

“The way the guys reacted to situations over the last two ODI series helps,” he said.

“You can look back at the way we closed it out (to clinch the series against Australia) in Sydney and in Wellington, when the guys have been asked to stand up.”

Bairstow and Root have been scoring centuries together since they were in short trousers – and delivered again in Dunedin.

Joe Root reaches his century

Before Wednesday, Root had gone 16 ODI innings without a century, dating back to last June, while Bairstow passed 50 just once in his eight most recent attempts.

But the two batsmen, who first met as Yorkshire schoolboys 15 years ago, were back on song with a second-wicket stand of 190 at the University Oval.

Bairstow was hardly panicking about his recent form.

“I didn’t get a big one against Australia, but it’s been threatening,” he said. “It’s the nature of opening the batting.

“You will nick off, they are allowed to bowl good balls, it swings, the pitch is fresh – so when you do get in it’s important to make it count.”

Asked about the run-making habit he and Root formed all those years ago, Bairstow confirmed an instinctive understanding has long been in place.

“We have known each other since we were 13. When we get together and are batting, it just all clicks.

Joe Root (r) congratulates century maker Jonny Bairstow

“(We first met) at the indoor school at Headingley – on a scholarship programme at Yorkshire. We were both tiny tots back then.

“It’s been a great journey so far, and there are a lot more memories to come playing together.”

Bairstow is confident the rest of England’s powerhouse batting line-up will soon be back on track too.

“We are a fast learning team,” he said. “You don’t put a string of results together like we have before, and change the way we play so quickly, if you’re not fast learners and fast adaptors.

“The World Cup’s not tomorrow, or in two days – it’s in 16 months.

“This is part of the journey – it’s about getting it right for then.”

New Zealand have recalled Mark Chapman as cover for Taylor, who aggravated his thigh injury while batting in Dunedin and faces a fitness test at practice on Friday.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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