NASSER HUSSAIN: Ben Stokes has to be honest if he cannot bowl in an Ashes Test. He’ll NEED to tell England to change the balance of their side but that is tricky… he is two cricketers and with the captaincy becomes three
- England completed a comprehensive 10-wicket win against Ireland yesterday
- Despite an injury, Ben Stokes remains on course to bowl during the Ashes
- Mail Sport’s Nasser Hussain sat down with Stokes ahead of the summer series
It seemed a lot more positive for Ben Stokes and his damaged left knee until the catch against Ireland on Saturday that left him hobbling again.
He had looked as good in the outfield as I’ve seen him in a long time and I watched him bowl before play for about 20 minutes when he appeared pain-free.
Stokes did a lot of fitness work during the IPL to get ready for the Ashes and only playing in two matches in India appeared to have done him a favour.
But it seems moving sideways creates the problem with his knee and the first concern on the third day at Lord’s came when he dived and then moved gingerly afterwards. Then he got into that position while catching Curtis Campher that clearly affected him.
That’s when he looked like the Ben Stokes we have seen in the field for the last 18 months or so. But that Ben Stokes has still been able to bowl, been an all-rounder of sorts and has led England now to 11 wins in 13 Tests.
Ben Stokes has now won 11 out of 13 Test matches as England Cricket captain following his side’s 10-wicket triumph against Ireland on Saturday
Stokes seemed to look in some discomfort during the game though after stretching for a catch
Stokes (first from right) has struggled with a knee injury this season, and has worked hard during the IPL season to get himself fit for this summer’s Ashes series
So my gut feeling is that he will perform at Edgbaston next week how he has done for some time now – Stokes will bowl when he has to.
That’s what he did in Pakistan last winter, when he waited until the ball was reverse swinging before he bowled, and that’s what I believe he will do in five Ashes Tests in the space of six and a half weeks.
That, to me, is a better option than England fudging it and leaving Jack Leach out and playing Joe Root as the spinner.
Or leaving a batter out and Stokes moving up the order himself. England have to stick to the plan that has been so successful for them.
Stokes has to be honest. If he can’t bowl in a Test he will have to tell England and they may have to then change the balance of the side.
Jack Leach took four wickets during the Test match against Ireland across both innings
Meanwhile, Joe Root surpassed a record 11,000 Test runs after scoring 56 in the first innings
But that does become incredibly tricky because Stokes is two cricketers and with the captaincy he is now three cricketers.
The captain has not bowled or even batted in anger in red-ball cricket in the build-up to the Ashes but you sense neither he nor England will be bothered about that.
In my era I would have batted on against Ireland on Friday to give Harry Brook, Jonny Bairstow and Stokes himself a hit because England did have four days to win.
But they just didn’t see it that way. And their way has been working extremely well for them.
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