Australia legend Steve Waugh says Ben Stokes ‘owes’ his England team-mates after missing the Ashes defeat to Australia.
Stokes played no part in this winter’s Ashes campaign, which Australia won comfortably, after being arrested and charged with affray.
The 26-year-old made his first appearance for England in over five months last weekend after the ECB confirmed he would rejoin his team-mates, having pleaded not guilty to the charge at Bristol Magistrates’ Court.
Former Australia captain Waugh described the situation as a ‘circus’ and says Stokes will need to make amends by putting in a number of match-winning performances over the next few years.
‘It’s been chaotic, a bit of a circus,’ Waugh told Sky Sports. ‘He certainly owes his team some good performances over the next couple of years.
‘He really put them in a bit of a hole with the Australian tour, which was unsettling for the whole team. For Trevor Bayliss and Joe Root to answer those questions was wearing – it was tough on Root.
‘I’m sure Stokes has learned his lesson from what has happened, he left England in an awkward position. It put them off kilter for the whole trip and they didn’t really recover.’
Waugh also expressed his sympathy for Root, who had to deal with Stokes’ absence and the publicity around it on his first Ashes tour as England captain.
Asked if Root could have done anything differently, Waugh said: ‘No. The police hadn’t made a decision and there was video footage [of Stokes allegedly involved in a fight].
‘Everyone had access to it, it was always going to be a talking point. And then the [Jonny Bairstow ‘headbutt’ on Cameron Bancroft] came up and a couple of other things.
‘On any other tour they would have been non-events but they become magnified and all of a sudden you’re dealing with problems every day which you don’t need to.
‘It just became a bit of snowball effect for the team.’
Upon his return to the side, Stokes scored 12 and claimed figures of 2-43 as England lost the opening ODI against New Zealand by three wickets.
Despite the defeat, which New Zealand clinched with four balls remaining, one-day captain Eoin Morgan was pleased by Stokes’ performance.
‘I’m really pleased. I thought he adapted to conditions perfectly well, using slower balls well,’ Morgan said.
‘After the first spell, he said he could have bowled longer, but we didn’t really need him at that stage. We needed something to happen, and he’s the kind of player who can make something happen.
‘He’s delighted to be back – he’s told everybody that. It’s an awesome feeling, when you’ve been away and you’re back in a fun environment, with lots of good friends around.’