All-rounder Stokes was due to travel to the Oval ahead of his team-mates for tests on his injured left knee
BEN STOKES has given England a huge boost by revealing he is confident he will be able to bowl in today’s Champions Trophy opener against Bangladesh.
All-rounder Stokes was due to travel to the Oval ahead of his team-mates to discover whether his injured left knee can withstand the pressure of bowling flat out against Bangladesh.
It is the latest twist to a problem that frustrates and restricts Stokes and baffles the England medical team.
Stokes is fine batting and fielding but sometimes suffers pain when bowling. He sent down just five overs in two matches in the recent series win over South Africa.
Captain Eoin Morgan had feared the star of the recent IPL could miss out with the ball. He said yesterday: “Ben had a little bowl today and we’ll see how he pulls up in the morning. He’ll be coming to the ground early.
“If he is confident and can slam his foot down in his delivery stride without pain, that will put him at ease psychologically when going straight into the game.
“If nothing swells up and he doesn’t feel stiff, he’ll bowl in the match. I envisage him being fit to bowl, I don’t see any complications.
“I don’t want to put him under a huge amount of pressure to bowl ten overs – we have others bowlers who can impact a game as much as Ben. But you always look towards Ben to bowl a minimum of five.
“The medical staff have a plan to get him through the tournament. We’re not going to break him so he can’t play for the rest of the summer.”
Morgan has been fundamental to England’s white ball revolution over the past two years and has instilled a mentality of aggressive, fearless cricket.
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The nadir was England’s defeat to Bangladesh in Adelaide that clinched their early exit from the 2015 World Cup. Now they play the same opponents feeling a surge of self-belief.
On the eve of the tournament, Morgan confirmed Jason Roy will open the batting with Alex Hales and remain in the team even if his run of low scores continues. That means no place for Jonny Bairstow.
Morgan added: “We have the potential to win tournaments with this group of players but we need to bring our A game if we’re going to win.
“If we wanted to play cagily or without freedom, yes, we’d change things and probably half of us wouldn’t be here. Jason epitomises the way that we play – he always bats with aggression and for the team. He’s a very important part of our side.
“In the first year that we were together after the last World Cup, our development was about pushing the limits and seeing how far we can go.
“The second year was about playing smart cricket and adapting to situations. Now we want to combine both.
“We’re always looking to get on the front foot and taking advantage of any mistake the opposition makes or any weakness they have.”
Bangladesh beat England in the last two 50-over World Cups but defeat today is unthinkable. They should win easily and, if Roy makes runs and Stokes bowls properly, Morgan’s men will be off and running.
* Stokes, Roy and Alex Hales will have a microchip, around the size of a 50p piece, attached to the top of their bat handle during the tournament. The latest gizmo for TV, it can measure bat speed, angle of backlift and follow through and the time between backlift and contact with the ball.
England (likely): Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan (capt), Stokes, Buttler (wkt), Moeen, Woakes, Rashid, Plunkett, Wood.