Fears grow injured Stokes may not bowl again in series
England fear Ben Stokes may not bowl again in this Ashes series after their talismanic all-rounder suffered an injury scare here yesterday.
Stokes was unable to complete three overs on day two of the fourth Test. He left the field part way through his third, wincing, and with soreness in his right shoulder.
Having been hit for 30 runs off 17 balls, he returned to the field a few overs later but did
not bowl again as Australia amassed 497 runs.
Stokes’s sudden withdrawal has prompted concerns that he might not bowl again in the series as the fitness of the hosts’ frontline bowlers continues to cause problems. James Anderson has already withdrawn from the series, having bowled just four overs in the first Test.
“As far as I’m concerned, if it was very serious he wouldn’t have retaken the field,” Jonny Bairstow said at the close of play. “We know what a character Ben is, how strong he is mentally and physically. I’m sure it’ll be assessed overnight but, as of this moment, I genuinely don’t know [how bad it is].”
In the third Test, before Stokes’s Herculean century, the Durham allrounder bowled more than 24 overs in Australia’s second innings. All but two of these were bowled consecutively and, in total, he delivered eight more than any other England bowler.
Stokes’s injury follows a warning by Shane Warne this summer that he was at risk of burnout. Before the World Cup, the former Australian spinner advised that Stokes should be used as a batsman first and bowler only second.
“If I was in charge of England, I would bat him as high up the order as possible to give him as much time at the crease as possible,” said Warne. “He could then bat like a batsman. But do not rely on him for 10 overs [of bowling]. I would say just take wickets, bowl in short bursts and don’t worry about conceding runs.”
With Stokes potentially out of England’s attack, and Steve Smith on the back of a double-century in the first innings, England start the third day 474 runs behind with nine wickets remaining.