Stokes has X factor - Whitaker

Andover Advertiser: Ben Stokes is back in the England squad Ben Stokes is back in the England squad

England welcomed back "vivacious character" Ben Stokes in an otherwise unchanged squad for the first Investec Test against India.

Without long to dwell on the dramatic last-gasp defeat against Sri Lanka at Headingley, selectors opted to take an identical 12-man squad to Trent Bridge for the flagship series against India augmented by Durham all-rounder Stokes.

The 23-year-old was the star performer during England's otherwise dismal Ashes winter, taking 15 wickets and hitting a maiden Test century in the 5-0 Australia whitewash, but saw his progress stall after a self-inflicted injury.

Stokes punched a locker on the limited-overs tour of West Indies, forcing him to miss the World Twenty20 and, due to uncertainty over his match-fitness, the start of England's international summer.

But it was always a question of when, rather than if, he would re-enter the fray, and 10 wickets in his last LV= County Championship match for Durham made a compelling case that the time was right.

National selector James Whitaker told Sky Sports News: "Ben's been frustrated at the start of the season from what happened at the back end of the winter. Now he comes in with full vigour into our squad and he fully deserves it.

"Ben's strength and vigour will add to the whole environment and it will be fantastic for him.

"He is a vivacious character, he's got some 'X factor', he's fantastic on flat wickets and gets some movement off the pitch.

"We're excited about Ben."

Whitaker's words suggest Stokes can expect to be on duty for a first home Test in Nottingham on July 9, but the balancing the side will be a tricky call.

Moeen Ali is the man in possession of Stokes' preferred role at number six, but his gutsy maiden century at Headingley - coupled with the fact that he is currently the side's main spinner - means he appears bullet-proof.

In that case, Chris Jordan would become vulnerable.

He has had a lively start to his England career, impressing with his all-round ability and enthusiasm.

But his return in the second match against Sri Lanka - no wickets, scores of 17 and 21 and a dropped catch at slip - may not be enough to hold off Stokes.

Chris Woakes, 12th man in both Tests this summer, has been rewarded with another call-up but is unlikely to feature.

Whitaker also admitted Moeen's status as the side's leading slow bowler, with support from part-timer Joe Root, was less than ideal.

Moeen has promise as a bowler but is significantly more developed with bat in hand, and captain Alastair Cook has been reluctant to use him at key stages so far.

"Ever since Graeme Swann stood down... we knew we had to rebalance the team, look at different options for the summer and beyond," Whitaker said.

"We think we've got a good balance now for the type of wickets we play on in England. Moeen will help the spin department and so will Joe Root.

"It's a different way of balancing the team. It might be difficult for the public to get used to but we've got three or four youngish spinners operating in country cricket who we, as selectors, feel are not quite ready yet.

"We have faith in Moeen and think he'll perform well."

Cook is another player who retains the selection panel's full confidence.

His captaincy is under the microscope like never before, with a lack of runs at the top of the order only serving to intensify the debate.

But Whitaker downplayed the issue, adding: "He's a fine, fine leader. He's scored 30 international hundreds, over 11,000 runs and he's a quality player going through a period where he's struggling to get beyond 20-25.

"He's got out full backing and we'll all clap our hands when that (turn in form) does happen."

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