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England sweating on fitness of Ben Stokes for Headingley Test

The all-rounder had scans on his tight left hamstring on Thursday afternoon.


Ben Stokes, centre, has a hamstring problem (Tim Goode/PA)

Ben Stokes, centre, has a hamstring problem (Tim Goode/PA)

Ben Stokes, centre, has a hamstring problem (Tim Goode/PA)

England face the uncertainty of a last-minute fitness test for key all-rounder Ben Stokes as they bid for a series-squaring victory in the second NatWest Test at Headingley.

With or without Stokes, however, captain Joe Root is adamant he and his team cannot afford to start feeling sorry for themselves.

As they seek victory over Pakistan to avoid a third successive series defeat, Root has given his full support to coach Trevor Bayliss and the players at their disposal to arrest a worrying slide.

England need everything to go right in Leeds – yet already, Stokes’ hamstring injury means they may have another obstacle to overcome.

Without him, Sam Curran may make his debut – two days before his 20th birthday.

Either way, Root could perhaps be forgiven for ruing his luck, but he is not about to do that.

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“There is no place for ‘poor-me’s’ in international sport,” said the Yorkshireman, whose team have lost six of their last eight matches – including a 4-0 Ashes trouncing.

“Sometimes you’re a little low on confidence after a difficult winter – you’ve got to get over that.

“It’s very easy to feel sorry for yourself when things aren’t going well.

“(But) you look at the best players in the world, best captains in the world, I’m sure they have the approach of going out there and being determined to put it right – maybe being a little bit stubborn at times and maybe wanting to prove a point to certain people.

“I think that can be a really good driver for all the guys.”

Bayliss has acquired his critics of late, but Root said: “I love working with Trev. I don’t see why there is need for a change.

“We’ve been below par the last six months, and I think the easy thing is the knee-jerk reaction – change everything completely.”

Root has no doubt England have the collective ability for dramatic improvement.

“Look at the players we have got – you tell me that Ben Stokes isn’t a world-class player, that can win the game with bat and ball,” he said.

“Look at Dawid (Malan), the way he played in Perth. That’s an unbelievable Test match hundred against a really good attack.

“There’s plenty of evidence we have the players – it’s just doing it consistently well over a long period of time.

“I have full confidence in that group. We have everything we need.”

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