Joe Root admitted he has never faced a tougher decision after Sam Curran was left out of England's team for the third Test against India to make way for Ben Stokes.

But Root said he agreed to pick his star all-rounder only after a 'brutal and honest' face-to-face meeting in which Stokes assured him he was in the right frame of mind to play an important Test match only four days after being found not guilty of affray.

In his absence, England won the second Test at Lord's by an innings and 159, and need to win just one of the last three games to claim the series against the world's No 1 team.

Yet Root and coach Trevor Bayliss hold Stokes's importance to the side in such high regard that they were willing to drop Curran only two games after he was man of the match at Edgbaston.


"It's probably one of the most difficult selections I've had to make as captain," said Root.

"The difficult part is the fact that everyone is performing so well. Some people would see leaving Sam out as the easy option, but what he's done so far has been nothing short of high-class. It might be that he comes back in later on.'

Root spent the two days before this game watching Stokes closely, but the key to his selection lay in a conversation between the two on Thursday night in which Stokes insisted he was ready for an immediate return to the fray.

"I sat him down, just me and him, and I asked him brutally and honestly if he was in the right place to play for England," said Root. "He assured me that he's ready to perform at his best. I have no worries that he will go and deliver, just like he has so many times."

Root said Curran was 'not delighted', but had taken the decision maturely after two games in which he has averaged 42 with the bat and 24 with the ball.

And the England captain played down suggestions that Stokes's recall, so soon after a court case that did not always cast English cricket in a favourable light, was inappropriate.

"That was a decision made above our heads," he said. "He has been made available for selection. You don't want to leave someone like Ben out."