Ben Stokes’ injured knee looks set to become as much a part of Ashes folklore as Terry Alderman’s shoulder, Glenn McGrath’s ankle and Jofra Archer’s elbow.
England are hoping unlike those injuries Stokes’ left knee does not keep him out of any Test matches, but he has joined his Indian Premier League side only after having an injection in it.
Stokes is due to play for Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who open the IPL against defending champions Gujarat Titans on Friday night.
He will not, however, be bowling, said CSK’s batting coach Mike Hussey.
“He’s ready to go as a batsman from the start, the bowling might be wait and see. I know he had his first very light bowl this week since he had his injections in his knee,” said the Australian.
“My understanding is he won’t be bowling much at all in the first few games of the tournament, or it might be a few weeks. Hopefully we’ll get him bowling at some stage in the tournament.”
The allrounder was visibly troubled by his knee during England’s recent series in New Zealand. He bowled only nine of the 345 overs England sent down (40-year-old Jimmy Anderson bowled 43).
He was clearly restricted by it when batting in England’s final innings having appeared to exacerbate the injury in the field.
In an ideal world England would prefer he did not go to the IPL, but CSK paid A$2.9 million for his services and Stokes has long said he will honour his commitment, with the proviso he leaves before the finals to prepare for England’s first Test of the summer against Ireland, beginning on June 1.
However, if Stokes cannot bowl, that affects the balance of the Test side, with England traditionally preferring to go with five bowlers, one being an allrounder, than four as Australian teams often do. Ironically, the emergence of Cameron Green means it could be the tourists with the extra bowler this series.
2023 Qantas Ashes Tour of the UK
First Test: Friday June 16-Tuesday June 20, Edgbaston
Second Test: Wednesday June 28-Sunday July 2, Lord’s
Third Test: Thursday July 6-Monday July 10, Headingley
Fourth Test: Wednesday July 19-Sunday July 23, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: Thursday July 27-Monday 31, The Oval
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