Ben Stokes: England all-rounder wants to play final Ashes Test as batter despite ‘painful’ injury


Ben Stokes described his side strain picked up during the fourth Ashes Test while bowling as “agony” and “what surgery without the anaesthetic feels like” in his Mirror column; the England all-rounder is hoping of playing as a batter in Hobart

Last Updated: 11/01/22 7:31pm

Ben Stokes suffered a side strain in the fourth Test and would not bowl if he played in Hobart

Ben Stokes has outlined his desire to play as a specialist batter in England’s final pink-ball Ashes Test against Australia.

The all-rounder suffered a side strain when bowling during the drawn fourth Test in Sydney, and is therefore a doubt for the final Test in Hobart, which starts on Friday.

Stokes said a late call will be made regarding his appearance in England’s upcoming XI, although bowling will not be possible after picking up an injury which he described as “agony” and “what surgery without the anaesthetic feels like” in his Mirror column.

“The big question now is whether I can play in the final game as a batsman or not,” Stokes added.

“I’m not going to say definitively just yet because there are still a few days to go and we need to see how I respond to the treatment, but what I will say is that I want to play.

“If it is a question of playing through a bit of pain, I know it is not going to be as bad as it was in Sydney and I got through that okay. But there are other things to consider such as the West Indies tour to come and the likelihood of doing more damage.”

Stokes’ desire to play echoes what Nasser Hussain told the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast, although the former England captain suggested a more cautious approach may be wiser.

“I don’t think there is a price of Stokes bowling – and can your valuable asset play just as a batter, grimacing after every ball?” Hussain said.

“He would want to, he’ll be desperate to, you know what he is like. But, in football, would a manager start a player who is carrying an injury?

“I don’t think you should in professional sport, however much the lad wants to play. If he is not fit, I would leave him out.”

Tasmania gears up for 'the biggest sporting event it has ever seen' with the final Ashes Test between Australia and England, the first to be staged in Hobart

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Tasmania gears up for ‘the biggest sporting event it has ever seen’ with the final Ashes Test between Australia and England, the first to be staged in Hobart

Tasmania gears up for ‘the biggest sporting event it has ever seen’ with the final Ashes Test between Australia and England, the first to be staged in Hobart

How will England line up for final Ashes Test?

We know for sure that Jos Buttler won’t play – the wicketkeeper-batter’s Ashes series is over after sustaining a finger injury while keeping in Australia’s first innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Sam Billings, having driven 500 miles from Queensland to Sydney to link up with the England team after a Big Bash stint with Sydney Thunder, looks set to take the gloves in Hobart in what will be his Test debut after 58 white-ball appearances for his country – 33 T20s and 25 one-day internationals.

That is despite Ollie Pope stepping in seamlessly for a stricken Buttler in Australia’s second innings at Sydney, claiming a joint-record four catches as a substitute fielder in a Test match.

Pope’s almost-flawless performance – he did shell a tough chance while Usman Khawaja was on 70 – was noted by England assistant coach Graham Thorpe but Billings keeps more regularly and should get the nod.

Jonny Bairstow is also a doubt for the final Ashes Test

Jonny Bairstow is also a doubt for the final Ashes Test

Jonny Bairstow would be an option to keep in normal circumstances – you feel wicketkeeper-batter is the role he truly desires in the England team and one he may yet win back in the long term.

But after a gruesome blow on the thumb from a Pat Cummins delivery during his first-innings hundred last week, the tourists may be wary of giving him the gloves for now. Should his thumb be okay, though, then Sky Sports expert Hussain would give Bairstow the gig behind the stumps.

Should Bairstow and Stokes miss out, Pope and Dan Lawrence are poised to slot into the middle order, although England could potentially play one of Pope or Lawrence and then bring in Chris Woakes or Craig Overton at No 7 – with Billings batting at No 6 – in order to get a fifth frontline bowler into the side. That would, however, lengthen the tail even more.





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