Stokes likely to bowl but facing fitness test

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Ben Stokes has suffered with injury since returning from a successful spell in the IPL
ICC Champions Trophy 2017
Venues: The Oval, Edgbaston, Cardiff. Dates: 1-18 June
Coverage: Highlights every evening on BBC Two, ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; in-play highlights and text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Ben Stokes is set to bowl in England’s Champions Trophy opener against Bangladesh, but his workload will be determined by a fitness test on Thursday morning.

All-rounder Stokes, 25, has been suffering from a knee problem but bowled in practice on Wednesday.

“I certainly see him bowling,” said England captain Eoin Morgan.

Morgan also confirmed Chris Woakes is fit and Jason Roy will retain his place opening the batting.

All-rounder Woakes missed the final two matches of the 2-1 series win against South Africa with a muscle problem, while Roy has been struggling for form.

However, Morgan stated that the Surrey batsman will be playing on his home ground of The Oval and that he “cannot see it changing” throughout the tournament, despite the recent good form of Jonny Bairstow.

Stokes showed signs of his knee problem in the first ODI against South Africa last week and despite making a century in the second ODI, only bowled three overs.

He then sat out the final game at Lord’s on Monday as England were thrashed by seven wickets.

“It’s a very strange injury in that it’s only in his delivery stride that he feels the pain,” added Morgan, who said that Stokes would play as a batsman alone if he was not fit to bowl.

The Irishman also stated that Stokes is unlikely to bowl 10 overs, but the Durham man has only bowled his full allocation in an ODI on three occasions in the past two years.

From a shambolic World Cup to pre-tournament favourites

England begin the eight-team tournament as favourites with the bookmakers only 15 months after a shambolic World Cup campaign that saw them eliminated in the first round.

They are joined in Group A by Australia and New Zealand, the two World Cup finalists, with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals.

Since that tournament, Morgan’s men have lost only three of their 11 one-day series, with their success based heavily on a powerful batting unit that has posted totals in excess of 300 on 21 occasions.

“We need to bring our ‘A’ game in order to win. If at the end of it we’re holding the trophy then we will have played really well,” said Morgan. “It’s about delivering in every game.”

England’s World Cup exit was confirmed by a defeat against Bangladesh in Adelaide, and the symmetry of facing the same opponents in this tournament was acknowledged by Morgan.

“Since then we have been on a huge upward curve,” he said. “We have had a group of players that have bought into a way of playing and have executed it really well.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with this group of players.”

More to follow.



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