TL;DR: Stokes cynosure of series opener

Ben Stokes was told he will face a crown court trial over an altercation outside a nightclub

Stokes recently pled not guilty in front of a packed room at Bristol Magistrates' Court, which opened up the possibility of a return to the game.

All-rounder Ben Stokes is expected to make his long-awaited England return in a one-day worldwide against New Zealand on Sunday, ending an absence that stems from an incident in Bristol last September which led to him being charged with affray.

Stokes had been kept out of the England team due to his involvement in a late night brawl outside a Bristol pub in September.

England hit back from their Ashes disappointment, in Stokes' absence, by beating Australia 4-1 in ODIs - so there is good reason for both teams to be highly respectful of the opposition.

Although England have not yet named their side for the first ODI, and Stokes is short of match practice, captain Eoin Morgan suggested Saturday he would be in the line-up.

"I mentioned yesterday that he might be better the more games he does play - this is his first for quite a long time", he said.

Morgan added that Stokes had appeared to have put the legal case to the back of his mind and was just concentrating on the one-day series.

Asked about the Stokes factor, Williamson said: 'There are a number of quality match-winning players in the English side.

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"Our batting has taken a bit of a backward step in Australia, so we'd like to see improvements in this series", he said.

'They are very aggressive with the bat, and their balance is one of their biggest strengths with the number of all-rounders.

"New Zealand have been on a run, and have a well-balanced side".

"We've got to be opening to learning and improving on those weaknesses as we go along".

Root is keen for the New Zealand series, which is followed by two Tests, to be all about the cricket.

Morgan can be a hard taskmaster, and proved the point with a critique of England despite victories in eight of their last nine ODI series and their run to the semi-finals of last year's Champions Trophy.

"You can win a lot of games with the bat, but restricting and having control of the game with the ball is so powerful".


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