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England still unsure about Ben Stokes' bowling fitness
England News

England still unsure about Ben Stokes' bowling fitness

The uncertainty over Ben Stokes' fitness has caused a late selection dilemma for England as they have proceeded to delay naming their final XI for the first Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford.

Stokes suffered a quad injury in the second game against West Indies, which prevented him from bowling in his side's victory in the series-decider in Manchester.

He was selected in the side as a specialist batsman with Zak Crawley omitted from the line-up to make room for an extra seamer.

England skipper Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood now find themselves in a quandary regarding what strategy to adopt for the first Test.

Stokes had bowled briefly in the Manchester nets on Monday but his spell was cut short by the intervention of rain.

"We still need to know a bit more about where Ben is at," Root said in his virtual media interaction ahead of the match.

"Because of the weather, he wasn't able to bowl outside so we'll probably wait on that tonight and make a decision in the morning [Wednesday].

"Ben being able to do everything he can do is huge for this team and it shows how pivotal he is, but if he's not fit there are a number of ways we can go."

Root admitted judging the exact progress of Stokes' recovery was tough given his dynamic character.

"It's a bit like telling him after nine overs on the bounce not to bowl and trying to take the ball out of his hand -- it's difficult," he said.

But Root affirmed his belief in Stokes' dedication to the team that requires him to deliver an honest assessment of his fitness.

"He's so committed to the team and the cause that he will always put his body on the line."

"I suppose the more he's played, the older he's got, the maturer he's got, he has got better at understanding that there are limitations to what he can do sometimes, even though those limitations are probably further for him than for other players."

Several options come up for the selectors over the final combination even if Stokes is fit enough to bowl.

Root and Silverwood could be tempted to drop Dom Bess and rely on Root's part-time off-spin to go with a pace-dominated attack and the presence of an additional batsman.

They could also potentially drop either Chris Woakes or James Anderson as well if Stokes slots in as the fourth seamer.

"I couldn't be happier to have so many headaches," Root said with a grin on his face.

"To have such strength in depth is really pleasing and long may it continue," he added.