Hobart, Dec 1 (IANS): Former England cricket team coach Trevor Bayliss has said that the squad having all-rounder Ben Stokes in its ranks ahead of the five-Test Ashes series was a "massive bonus" for the Joe Root-led side.
Bayliss, who was England coach when they lost the 2017/18 Ashes 4-0 -- a series played without Ben Stokes -- said ahead of the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba from December 8 that he knew just too well what the absence of the all-rounder had meant then.
"He's a massive bonus. It's not just his batting, his bowling or his fielding," said Bayliss, who is the coach of Big Bash League (BBL) side Sydney Thunder this season, to news.com.au on Wednesday.
Bayliss said that Stokes' presence has always had a profound effect and lifts the morale of the team.
"He's one of those guys who is a leader within the group. He's a very positive influence. There were times where he didn't play because of injury in England and I think the team felt his loss when he wasn't there."
Stokes was a late addition to the England squad for the Ashes as he was prioritising his mental health and recovering from a second surgery on a finger injury. The all-rounder had suffered a fracture to his left index finger while fielding for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2021 in April. After leaving the tournament, he needed surgery.
In July, Stokes led a fresh ODI team to a 3-0 series win over Pakistan when the first choice team was unavailable due to COVID-19 outbreak.
But he underwent a second surgery in October to remove scar tissue and two screws from the left index finger.
"Certainly when he plays, he's able to drag a lot more of the players along with him. He's got a great attitude, a never-say-die attitude. It's hard to put the finger on exactly what it is, but I'm quite sure they'll be happy to have him back."