England are set to delay a choice on the bowling health of star all-rounder Ben Stokes earlier than naming their last XI to play Pakistan in the first Test at Old Trafford. Stokes’ quad harm meant he was unable to bowl in England’s victory over the West Indies on the Manchester floor final week, which sealed a 2-1 collection victory. He was chosen as a specialist batsman for that match, with England dropping Zak Crawley from their prime order to make room for an additional bowler.
Now England captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood should resolve whether or not to undertake the same technique as they go looking for a primary collection win towards Pakistan since 2010.
Stokes bowled within the Manchester nets on Monday however rain reduce brief his deliberate stint on Tuesday.
“We still need to know a bit more about where Ben is at,” Root stated at his pre-match press convention.
“Because of the weather he wasn’t able to bowl outside so we’ll probably wait on that tonight and make a decision in the morning (Wednesday).
“Ben with the ability to do every thing he can do is big for this group and it exhibits how pivotal he’s, but when he is not match there are a selection of how we will go.”
Given Stokes’ all-action style, Root said judging his fitness was difficult.
“It’s a bit like telling him after 9 overs on the bounce to not bowl and attempting to take the ball out of his hand — it is troublesome,” he admitted.
But Root backed his vice-captain to deliver an honest assessment of his fitness ahead of the start of the Test on Wednesday.
“He’s so dedicated to the group and the trigger that he’ll at all times put his physique on the road,” he said.
“I suppose the extra he is performed, the older he is received, the maturer he is received, he has received higher at understanding that there are limitations to what he can do typically, though these limitations are most likely additional for him than for different gamers.”
If Stokes can bowl, England could add him to the attack that played in the West Indies finale.
Alternatively, they may decide to drop Somerset spinner Dom Bess and rely on Root’s occasional off-breaks for variation in a seam-dominated attack.
But if England recall an extra batsman to balance up the side, Root and Silverwood could be left with the awkward decision of choosing between James Anderson, their all-time leading Test wicket-taker, and in-form fellow paceman Chris Woakes.
“I could not be happier to have so many complications,” Root said. “To have such power in depth is de facto pleasing and lengthy could it proceed.”
Seamer Stuart Broad will feature after responding to his controversial omission from the West Indies opener with 16 wickets at 10.93 in the next two matches — including his 500th in Tests.
England have lost the first Test in each of their past five series.
But, fresh from the West Indies campaign and against a Pakistan side who have played just two intra-squad games since their arrival, Root said England would have “a little bit of a head begin”.
However, he warned against complacency.
“I believe it’s actually vital we do not take that as a right,” he said. “We are very conscious Pakistan are a proficient group and really ‘up’ for this collection.”
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