England captain Ben Stokes unconcerned over ability to bowl in the Ashes

England captain Ben Stokes has no concerns over his ability to bowl in this summer’s Ashes.

Stokes’ long-standing left knee issue caused him problems during February’s tour of New Zealand and his recent time at the Indian Premier League proved frustrating.

All-rounder Stokes played only twice for Chennai Super Kings and sent down just one over for 18 runs during his IPL stint but ahead of this week’s one-off Test with Ireland at Lord’s, the 31-year-old is confident he can have an impact when the Ashes begins on June 16.

He said: “Yeah, look the knee is in much better place than it was in Wellington.

“I’ve been in India for the IPL over the last nine to 10 weeks but what I have done is get myself into a position where I am not able to look back and regret or say I have not given myself the best opportunity to play a full role with the ball this summer.

“I have worked incredibly hard with the medical team in Chennai, who were liaising with the ECB guys and got myself into a place where I feel like I am back in a 2019, 2020 space in terms of my own body and fitness.

“I have definitely given myself the best opportunity, but the mind and body are different things. But yeah, I have given myself the best chance.”

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes says he does not need surgery (John Walton/PA)

Quizzed on whether an operation would be required in the long-term, Stokes insisted managing it was the answer and confirmed he could have cortisone injection this summer if needed, like he had before the IPL started in March.

“We know what it is and it is about managing it,” Stokes added.

“No (operation), it is just managing it with workload and working out with medical team to get through it pretty much.

“Yeah, look I just said I don’t plan ahead too much. That is obviously medical side of things, but if needs be (an injection), yeah.”

England announced their team for only a second ever Test meeting with Ireland on Tuesday night with Josh Tongue given a surprise debut in place of Chris Woakes, who has taken 27 wickets and boasts an average of 11.33 in five Tests at Lord’s.

Josh Tongue is set to make his Test debut
Josh Tongue is set to make his Test debut (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Tongue has enjoyed a fine start to the season with Worcestershire, after enduring a 15-month absence from the game due to a shoulder problem, and dismissed Steve Smith at the start of May.

Captain Stokes said: “It was between Woakesy and Tonguey for this game, the way we looked at it was everyone knows what Chris Woakes offers to the team in terms of all-round ability with ball and bat.

“We see this as an opportunity to give Josh Tongue an opportunity, not just to see what he can do but to see what his character is like and how he can influence the game in the role I see he would play if he played a few more games this summer.

“I think it was just a great opportunity and something we couldn’t look past.

Josh Tongue
Josh Tongue has taken 162 first-class wickets (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“Tonguey has been someone who has been spoken about even since he first came on and played for Worcestershire. He is someone who possesses a bit more pace than most of the guys who have been spoken about as the next guys in line and he’s started off pretty well this year with Worcestershire.

“Having someone who is able to bowl with that extra pace, so he can come on and change the way the game is going and have that x-factor, is always great to have in your side.

“I am looking forward to getting him involved and watching him get his Test cap tomorrow.”