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India v England 2024

Ben Stokes could be fit to bowl in final two India Tests

Ben Stokes may bowl against India
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

England captain Ben Stokes has suggested he might be fit to bowl in the fourth and fifth Test matches of the India series.

Multiple injuries have prevented Stokes from bowling in any form of international cricket since the Lord’s Ashes Test match in June 2023. He underwent surgery on his left-knee after the 2023 World Cup to repair a long-term injury and allow him to return to bowling.

Stokes has his rightful place in English cricket history for several classic innings, exceptional fielding moments, and his role in the thinktank that conceived England’s aggressive approach, but his bowling has been part of that legacy as well.

England took a 1-0 lead in India with a win in Hyderabad, but the hosts bounced back with two comprehensive wins. James Anderson, their lone fast bowler in Visakhapatnam, impressed enough for England to pick Mark Wood alongside him at Rajkot. Wood’s early strikes reduced India to 33-3, but India recovered to post 445 and 430-4.

England’s spinners have also found it tougher to take wickets as the series goes on, compounding the tourists’ problems with the ball. Tom Hartley had impressed on debut at Hyderabad, but has looked insipid since then. Rehan Ahmed’s 11 wickets have come at 44 apiece, while debutant Shoaib Bashir was dropped after figures of 4-196. Joe Root, out of form with the bat, has had to send down over 100 overs so far in the series.

Stokes being fit to bowl may address these issues and would give England more options in their attack while maintaining a balanced side. He has been bowling in the nets on this tour, but there has been no official confirmation of his bowling in Test cricket.

However, at the post-match press conference at Rajkot, Stokes had some good news for England fans: “I had my first bowl [in the nets] at 100 per cent. As a ­person, I like to jump the gun a ­little bit too much. I have to get my whole body to get used to bowling. So I am not saying no, but I am not ­saying yes, either.”

Stokes has 197 Test wickets. Three wickets will make him only the third cricketer, after Garry Sobers and Jacques Kallis, to the 6,000-run-200-wicket double.

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