"He's a madman." That was the succinct verdict of Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, on Ben Stokes. It was said with a smile, of course. And meant as a compliment. For it was Stokes' commitment to the team cause and extraordinary levels of fitness that provoked it.

The specific moment that inspired the comment came from the final ball at the end of the third day's play in Colombo. Bayliss had just seen Stokes complete a sprawling stop on the long-on boundary which saved three runs.

Nothing unusual about that, you might think. Except Stokes was the bowler at the time. And after the batsman, Lakshan Sandakan, had driven one down the ground, Stokes had chased the ball down himself, culminating in a full length dive and drag back. At the end of a long day, during which Stokes had batted and bowled in the heat, it was a fine demonstration of stamina and determination.

A few hours later, Bayliss bumped into Stokes again in the team hotel. Bayliss had just finished dinner; Stokes had just finished another session in the gym.

It's no coincidence he has been able to bowl 10-over spells (albeit, one split by the tea interval) in this heat. Or that he has been the one bowler to exceed 90mph and manage to intimidate batsmen on these slow surfaces. His dedication to his fitness on this tour - the extra runs in the heat of the day, the extra gym sessions - has been remarkable. He looks fitter, stronger and quicker than ever before.

While Stokes has always been fit, it may be relevant that his dedication appears to have gone to another level since he returned to the team. For the pain of missing the Ashes and the realisation that he could face a far more prolonged absence from the game - following his arrest after a night out in Bristol - appears to have brought some clarity to Stokes.

Instead of unwinding over a few drinks, he tends to unwind over a few laps of the grounds or hours in the gym. He has realised how much this game means to him and resolved to take every opportunity to be the best player he can be.

"Certainly I think he's learnt a lesson since that time," Bayliss said, referring to the events of September 2017. "The way he's conducted himself since he has come back into the fold has been exemplary.

"To see him bowl the ball and then chase the ball all the way to wide mid-on to save it, that's commitment, that. He's a madman. How many other blokes in the world would you see do that? No one. And that says a lot.

"I got into the lift a couple of nights ago after dinner on the third day and he was getting out. He'd just come back from the gym! That's how hard he works. He deserves everything he gets from the game.

"You can throw the ball to him, you can put him in any situation with the bat, you can put him where the ball is coming in the field. For me, he's the first pick. His averages may not be the greatest in each of his positions. But you add those three disciplines together, it adds up to one hell of a player."

There remains the possibility that Stokes could face further time out of the game. He and Alex Hales will face disciplinary proceedings from the ECB in December, though the smart money suggests the fact that he has already missed the Ashes and lost the vice-captaincy of the team would mean any further suspension has already been served.

Either way, it seems there is an acceptance that the ECB's Cricket Discipline Committee may well not have legal jurisdiction over foreign T20 leagues, so any potential ban would only apply to international or county cricket.

Bayliss, at least, is very keen that his key allrounder should be at England's disposal as much as possible.

"I hope he's available for our next game," Bayliss said. "That [case] hasn't affected him. I haven't heard it mentioned once around the changing room. He can lift the tempo with whatever he does for the team. The team at different times definitely take his lead."

Stokes' performance was, in Bayliss' view, one of the highlights of a memorable tour. But he was equally delighted by England succeeding in conditions in which they have a modest record with a bold approach he has long advocated.

"Our adaptability was probably the most pleasing thing," he said. "We spoke, before this series, about how if we were going to come here and win we couldn't do things the same as teams may have done in the past. We had to play a little bit differently to get a different result.

"So, the way the boys went about it, trying to put the pressure back on to the Sri Lankans, well, you really can't argue with it. It's been successful.

"To win away from home has been very difficult for most teams. So to come here and win in those conditions, will have given the boys confidence."

Issues remain, though. Bayliss admits that the openers' spots are "probably not" nailed down and accepts that Jonny Bairstow will have to adapt as a batsman to prosper in conditions where seam bowlers have more assistance.

"In these conditions, batting at No. 3 is no problem for Jonny," Bayliss said. "His challenge will be when we get home on to the seaming decks. But he's certainly a very talented player and I'm sure he'll do whatever he can to adapt his game to that position at home as well."

Few changes are anticipated when the squad for the Caribbean tour is announced in a couple of weeks. There seems every chance England could play three spinners in at least one of the Tests - "a few of the wickets over there do take spin, they're very subcontinent like," Bayliss said - while Jason Roy may come into contention.

"He's getting close," Bayliss said. "He's been spoken about the last one or two times we've spoken about squads. It's a bit hard to say we'd go past the 16 or 17 players we've had here on this successful tour. But certainly he is a batter who's been spoken about."

Bayliss now goes to his home in Australia for Christmas - he will take part in the selection meeting via Skype or similar - while most of the players return to the UK on Wednesday. They depart for the Caribbean on January 11.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo