Joe Root says axing Sam Curran for Ben Stokes was toughest decision of his career

Skipper Root, convinced by Stokes he was ready to play, said: “It’s one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as captain even though I still feel he has a big part to play in the rest of the series.

“Sam took it really well. In a long series, it’s about a squad, not just 11 players and it might be that he comes back in later.”

Curran was named man of the match  in the First Test.

And Root added: “I’ve seen it touted that leaving out Sam is the easy option but he’s done an exceptional job in the first two Tests.”

Root, 27, had a one-on-one meeting with Stokes on Thursday evening.

It finished with the captain believing Stokes was ready to return just four days after being cleared of affray at Bristol Crown Court.

The response satisfied Root that his old mate could return and that meant unlucky Surrey all-rounder Sam Curran being shunted to the sidelines.

In truth, Stokes was always likely to play once the England hierarchy decided to rush him back into the squad on Tuesday, less than two hours after being cleared of affray.

Some were horrified at the level of violence Stokes used in his street fight but there appears little sense of unease in the England camp.

Root said: “I sat Ben down, just me and him, and asked him brutally and honestly if he was in the right place to play for England. He assured me he’s ready to perform at his best.

“We obviously assessed his fitness as well over the course of two days’ practice. He’s just desperate to get back playing cricket and put in  performances. I’ve known Ben from a young age. He looks fresh and like he is raring to go.

“I have no worries or doubts he’ll go out and deliver, just like he has so many times.”

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