Ben Stokes’ Potential as Allrounder Could Shape England’s Selection Strategy for last 2 Tests


Ben Stokes, the England captain, is considering returning to bowling duties in the ongoing series against India.

Ben Stokes‘ willingness to bowl in the current series against India may need to be restrained, according to Brendon McCullum, who also acknowledges that it is “a good sign” that the England captain is considering playing as an all-rounder in the final two Test matches.,
Ben Stokes’ Potential Return as Allrounder Could Shape England’s Selection Strategy

Since having surgery on his left knee at the end of November, Stokes has improved his bowling throughout this tour. He began the second Test in Visakhapatnam, but for the past week in Rajkot, he has increased his intensity and is bowling back at full speed.

Stokes was determined not to bowl competitively in this five-match series following a “pinky-promise” with his physiotherapist. Stokes last bowled competitively in June, during the second Test against Australia at Lord’s. Nevertheless, Stokes reopened the door following England’s crushing loss in the third Test, saying that improvement has been “a lot faster than I thought (it) would”. Even after England lost the game and dropped to a 2-1 deficit in the series, he thought he could have bowled.

“On one of these warm-up days, I bowled at 100%, which gave me a nice feeling. Although it would have been foolish, I thought I could have bowled during the game.”

Speaking on Monday, McCullum expressed encouragement from Stokes’ assurance. Stokes wouldn’t do anything extreme, it was acknowledged, but he also understood that it was his responsibility as head coach to make sure his captain didn’t overextend himself. “Well, it’s good that he’s actually getting into a state where he thinks he might bowl,” McCullum stated.

“But Ben is not only brilliant, he’s incredibly smart. If he doesn’t believe he can bowl legitimately, he won’t bowl. The issue arises if he begins to cast a spell and is unable to break out of it. So, we’ll have to wait and see.

In the event that he does get that bit between his teeth, let’s try to yank him away from it and assess where the danger is. However, it’s encouraging.

The all-rounder Stokes’s comeback would significantly enhance the XI’s balance. England withdrew Shoaib Bashir to select both James Anderson and Mark Wood for the third Test after using just one seamer and four spinners, including Joe Root, for the first two.

In the first innings, Wood and Anderson played brilliantly together, with Wood collecting four of their five combined wickets. However, they lost all of their wickets in the second and were exhausted after their combined 23 overs. It meant that when India piled on the runs to give England an impossible target of 557, an unskilled spin attack was exposed.

With barely four days to recover before the Test in Ranchi begins on Friday, Anderson and Wood will be under pressure. Even though McCullum said England will see how they fare, Ollie Robinson is predicted to finish ahead of Gus Atkinson, so at least one will probably miss out. With the ability to bowl bouncers and reverse swing the ball, England could be able to return Bashir and have the best of both worlds with two seamers and four spin options at their disposal if Stokes is given the all-clear to begin bowling. He will also be able to reach the 200 wicket mark after earning his 100th Test cap. At an average of 32.07, he is now on 197.

In the 2019 Ranchi Test, India defeated South Africa by an innings and 202 runs, with wickets being split around. England may confirm the starting eleven a day before play begins, like they have done for the three previous Tests, but they won’t discuss selection until after their first training session at the JSCA International Stadium on Wednesday.

“We’ve got two really good options on the sideline as well with Ollie Robinson and Gus Atkinson,” added McCullum. Thus, we have a really strong roster from which to choose. All we have to do is determine the conditions we will face upon arrival and assess the army’s condition before deciding what course to take. “Clearly, the situation in Ranchi is yet unknown to us. It could spin, in my opinion. When we get there, we’ll see, but I suppose it should spin. However, as you can see, we’re quite happy with our current roster and have no plans to enlarge it.

“We have a bunch of players here who have performed exceptionally well in the last three Test matches, and we will support whichever starting eleven we choose. Hopefully, things will be different from where they are right now.”

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