Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Cricket

Ben Stokes on the injury list as England aim to avert whitewash in St Lucia

By Rory Dollard

England's hopes of averting a 3-0 whitewash in the West Indies were hit when Ben Stokes emerged as a doubt for the third Test, with Ben Foakes and Chris Woakes also managing injuries.

If the worst happened and all three were ruled out of the game in St Lucia, which begins today, England would have just 12 fit players to choose from.

Stokes was present at training on Thursday, England's first full session since their three-day defeat in Antigua, but did not take part due to bruising on his right heel.

Foakes, who was hit on the hand by a Shannon Gabriel delivery last week and was unable to keep wicket in the second innings, was involved but has yet to be given the green light by medical staff and Woakes is unlikely to make it as he manages a long-standing knee complaint.

Stokes' ability to balance the side as a top-five batsman and reliable seam bowler makes any question mark overs his participation serious. He would be considered as a specialist batsman even if he was unavailable to fulfil his duties with the ball, but England will give themselves more time to make a judgement.

Restructuring the side, or just the batting order, remain possible but with Adil Rashid having flown home to be with his pregnant wife options are limited.

Of the dozen players who are currently considered 100% fit and available, Keaton Jennings has just been dropped, Jack Leach is a second spinner at a pace-friendly venue and Mark Wood has not played Test cricket since last May.

Wood was likely to make his comeback regardless of fitness issues, his extra speed looking increasingly attractive due to Sam Curran's struggles in the series, but were Stokes' ability to bowl compromised he would become a virtually essential pick.

Speaking ahead of nets, vice-captain Jos Buttler revealed England had been spurred on by wounded pride. The tourists have seen their techniques and temperaments picked apart since landing in the Caribbean, bowled out for 77, 246, 187 and 132.

• Ireland will restrict themselves to 11 players in the games against an Oman Development XI today and tomorrow ahead of next week's Twenty20 quadrangular tournament in the country.

The three players not involved this morning are expected to play tomorrow against the same opposition as Ireland finalise their team for the first international, against Oman on Wednesday. Games against Scotland and Netherlands follow on Friday and Sunday respectively.

The squad then head to India for a nine-match series across all three formats, against Afghanistan in Dehradun, starting on February 21.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph