Ashes 2013-14: Ben Stokes desperate to impress in Alice Springs
England are to play a two-day match starting at Traeger Park against a CA Chairman's XI on Friday
Thursday 28 November 2013
Ben Stokes is out to grasp his chance for a Test debut, by continuing to impress England's management team in Alice Springs.
Jonathan Trott's return home, because of a stress-related illness, means - as one of Joe Root or Ian Bell replace him at number three - a batting position opens up in the middle order for the second Test.
Jonny Bairstow, Stokes and Gary Ballance will be the three contenders, all in their early 20s, jostling to join England's Ashes campaign in Adelaide.
Stokes, like Ballance uncapped at Test level, has the added advantage of being an all-rounder - a significant factor perhaps, at a venue where the bowlers seem sure to have to work hard for their wickets.
He has the opportunity to demonstrate his all-round talents in the two-day match starting at Traeger Park against a CA Chairman's XI on Friday.
"Obviously, there's going to be a place up for grabs, and this game does come at a good time for us for the selection reasons," said the 22-year-old.
"There's three guys trying to take the chance to get that spot, and these days are a good chance for one of us to put our hands up and get in there for Adelaide."
It is less than 10 months ago that Stokes' England future was beginning to look decidedly dicey, after he and all-rounder Matt Coles were sent home from an England Performance Programme tour of Australia for disciplinary reasons.
Persistently breaking curfews by staying too long in the bar was the problem then. But Stokes insists he is ready to make the most of his second chance - if it comes in Adelaide.
"Definitely - as everyone else will be, who didn't play in the first Test," he said.
"Everyone's going to go out there and make sure they put their hand up and prove a point that they want to be out here and be in that second Test match.
"Whoever does take that role will definitely have the skills to come in and fill that spot.
"If it's not me I'll wish them all the best."
England need to put their first-Test defeat behind them to stay in with a realistic chance of winning the Ashes for a fourth successive time.
Stokes, meanwhile, is trying to forget his past mistakes too.
"I think, when I did get back (from Australia last winter), I set out to put everyone's mind right - making sure that they knew that I did want to play for England and get back into the team.
"I think I've done the right things and gone about it the right way.
"Here I am today, so it's brilliant."
England have yet to announce whether they will rest captain Alastair Cook this week - along with first-choice Test players such as Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson.
But they will need to gather as much evidence as possible about who to pick at numbers three and six in Adelaide, as well as working out their best option as third seamer there.
Possible England team (v CA Chairman's XI at Traeger Park, starting at 1030, 0100GMT): MA Carberry, IR Bell, JE Root, MJ Prior (Captain), GS Ballance, BA Stokes, JM Bairstow (wkt), GP Swann, ST Finn, MS Panesar, WB Rankin
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