Stokes delighted to be back among England teammates

England's Ben Stokes, third from left, celebrates taking the wicket of New Zealand's Colin de Grandhomme during their One Day International cricket match in Hamilton, New Zealand, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/John Cowpland)

HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) Captain Eoin Morgan says allrounder Ben Stokes was delighted to be back with the England cricket team after a five-month absence for the first one-day international against New Zealand on Sunday.

”He’s told everybody that,” Morgan said. ”It’s an awesome feeling when you’ve been away and you’re back in a fun environment with lots of friends around.

”I can vouch for that. I spend a lot of time away (from the team) while the tests are on. You come back and it puts a smile on your face.”

Stokes hadn’t played for England since his arrest on Sept. 25 last year after a brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol. He was initially suspended by the England and Wales Cricket Board but has been allowed to return pending a court appearance on a charge of affray.

The ECB said Stokes, who has pleaded not guilty, is entitled to the presumption of innocence until legal proceedings are completed.

Stokes made 12 off 22 balls in England’s total of 284-8 and took a catch and two wickets, breaking a 178-run partnership between Ross Taylor and Tom Latham, before New Zealand won by three wickets with four balls to spare.

Morgan said Stokes adapted well to conditions despite the allrounder’s only cricket since Sept. 25 being a short stint for Canterbury province in New Zealand’s domestic limited overs competition. There were doubts around his match fitness Sunday but he dispelled those by bowling eight overs, taking 2-43.

”We needed something to happen and he’s the kind of player who can do that,” Morgan said.