Ben Stokes is on track to bowl in this week’s first Test against New Zealand.
All-rounder Stokes, who has been suffering with a stiff back since the end of England’s one-day international series win over the Kiwis, had to test his fitness indoors on Monday after heavy showers put Auckland’s Eden Park nets off limits.
He batted for 20 minutes against throw-downs and then got through five scheduled overs of bowling “without any issues”.
An England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman confirmed Stokes’ remaining timetable to prove his fitness to bowl as well as bat when the two-Test series begins on Thursday.
“His plan is to bowl tomorrow and on Wednesday outdoors,” he said.
“If he comes through, which he is expected to, he will bowl in the Auckland Test.”
Stokes is sure to play in some capacity in the day-night fixture. But his fitness to bowl will have a major impact on selection for the remainder of the team.
If he were to play as a specialist batsman, it is likely England would have to sacrifice incumbent number three James Vince in order to make room for a fourth seamer – probably Craig Overton.
In turn, captain Joe Root would then have to decide whether he or Dawid Malan should move up the order to three – with Stokes at five.
Stokes missed the first of England’s two warm-up fixtures against a New Zealand XI in Hamilton last week, a two-day pink-ball match, and then played as a batsman only in the second.
He had a pain-killing injection, but scans did not indicate a serious injury.