Last Updated: January 23, 2024, 11:17 IST
Ben Stokes to lead England in the 5-match Test series in India (AP Photo)
Brendon McCullum said skipper Ben Stokes, who underwent surgery to solve a left knee problem, should be good to go for the series opener against India.
England coach Brendon McCullum called captain Ben Stokes a “greyhound”, adding that the star all-rounder is “good to go” for the five-match Test series against India, which begins at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium from Thursday. The England captain underwent surgery in November 2023 for his long-standing left knee problem. Stokes is fit and raring to go against India in the 5-match series.
England’s coach in Test cricket, McCullum believes that Stokes will return stronger post-surgery as the ace all-rounder has worked hard and is good to go.
“He (Stokes) looks like a greyhound. He’s put the work in, everyone knows his work ethic is phenomenal,” said McCullum.
England arrived in India on Sunday and trained for the first time on Monday. Stokes had trained with the squad during their camp in Abu Dhabi last week but did not bowl. He is unlikely to bowl in the Test series as well.
“I’ve seen him running around and I think he’s good to go. We’ll obviously make that call as late as we need to. But he’s put all the work in, and we’ll just have to wait and see,” McCullum was quoted as saying by BBC.
England have reached here without batter Harry Brook, who has returned to the UK for personal reasons. Dan Lawrence has been named as his replacement though Brook could return for this tour that lasts until March.
Uncapped spinner Shoaib Bashir could not accompany the team due to visa delay and remained in Abu Dhabi. Bashir, who plays for Somerset in England’s domestic cricket circuit, is of Pakistani heritage and is the only member from the Test side facing paperwork issues.
“The time that Bash (Bashir) had with the squad over in Abu Dhabi, where he fitted in seamlessly, will serve him greatly. We’ve also got a little bit of support out there for him so he’s not on his own,” McCullum said.
“We’re hoping the news will come through today that his visa has been approved, then we’ll get him to sink his teeth into this series,” he said.
Dan Lawrence, named as Harry Brook’s replacement, is expected to arrive in Hyderabad on Monday night. McCullum also offered his support to Brook, who flew back home after withdrawing from Tests against India on Sunday due to personal reasons.
“Obviously our thoughts are with Harry and his family, it’s a tough time. It’s a privileged position to play cricket for a living but some things are more important than that.”
“There’s a chance he may return later in the tour but for now we just want him to be with his family and do his thing. We’ll just keep talking. When he says he might be ready, when that conversation starts to happen, cool. If that doesn’t happen then that’s OK as well.”
(With inputs from Agencies)