Trevor Bayliss happy to take safe approach with Ben Stokes in a World Cup year
Stokes would not have featured in Grenada due to an ankle problem.
Trevor Bayliss stressed the importance of treading carefully with Ben Stokes’ fitness after standing him down from from duty long before rain washed out the third one-day international in Grenada.
The all-rounder rolled his ankle during fielding practice on the eve of the match and was replaced in the team by Alex Hales despite being available to face the West Indies as a specialist batsman.
As it was Stokes missed nothing, with the coin toss between Jason Holder and Eoin Morgan the only action fans witnessed on a dreary and damp day in St George’s. It was, though, a recognition from the backroom team that he must be protected at all costs leading up to the World Cup, including from himself.
Stokes is reluctant to miss any cricket on fitness grounds and regularly puts himself through a punishing physical workload, but Bayliss saw enough to realise rest was the order of the day.
“He could have batted and fielded today but he said he could feel his ankle a little bit warming up to bowl,” explained the England coach.
“He was probably not as confident as I’ve seen him before when we asked him if he was right to play. Straight away it was an easy decision and a learning process for him about how he can look after his body a little better
“We took a conservative approach today and decided not to chance making it worse. But I’d be surprised if he’s not right for the next game on Wednesday.”
The abandonment not only denied ‘the Spice Isle’ its first international cricket since the England Test almost four years ago, it also came during a period of water conservation in the region caused by an early dry season.
For England the implications are selectorial. Bayliss revealed he was keen to get game time for those outside his first choice XI, with Hales, Joe Denly and David Willey all yet to feature.
Rather than commit to a settled team in the run-up to the World Cup, the Australian appears to favour a rotation policy that will keep everyone sharp come tournament time.
“One of the things we wanted to do on this tour is not only win but, if we could, give everyone a run,” he said.
“I think the team that wins the World Cup will probably have the strongest squad. I don’t think you’ll get through almost a dozen games to win a World Cup with the same team. Your back-up strength will have to be up to speed.
“This one was about getting as many guys as we can a game or two. It’s a bit of a juggling act and not playing this game is probably the only thing that’s been hampered it a little bit. We may have to go and think about the last couple of games.”
Bayliss admitted there had been a discussion about selecting Denly over Hales, primarily to have a look at a player who played the last of his nine ODIs almost a decade ago.
“Yeah there was (a temptation),” he said. “We’re hoping that he will get to play one or two games on this tour.”