Because of long-standing knee problems, England captain Ben Stokes allayed fears about his fitness to bowl in the forthcoming Ashes series by declaring on Wednesday that he plans to participate in every test this summer.
Stokes smiled as he declared, “Unless I can't walk, I'll be on the pitch,” the day before England's lone test against Ireland, which acts as a warm-up for the five-match Ashes series against Australia.
Stokes played only twice for Chennai Super Kings in the recently concluded Indian Premier League after experiencing knee problems during the team's February trip of New Zealand. He only pitched one over for 18 runs.
The 31-year-old Stokes, though, said that his knee is considerably better than it was in New Zealand and that he would play as an all-rounder for England against Ireland at Lord's and then Australia.
What I've done, according to Stokes, is put myself in a position from where I can no longer look back and feel remorse or claim that I didn't give myself the greatest chance to play a complete role with the ball this summer.
“I've put in a tonne of effort coordinating with the ECB folks and the medical staff in Chennai. In terms of my physical appearance, level of fitness, and other factors, I feel like I am back in the year 2019, 2020.
Stokes said, when questioned about the specifics of his knee issue, “We know what it is and it's about managing it.”
To get through that, he said, “It's managing it with workload and working it with the medical team.”
For the Ireland test, England has already announced its lineup, with fast bowlers James Anderson and Ollie Robinson getting a break while seamer Josh Tongue makes his debut.
Since becoming eligible for test matches in 2017, Ireland has lost each of its six games. That includes a loss to England in 2019 at Lord's.
Andrew Balbirnie, the captain, has said that defeating England would be “the biggest moment in Irish cricket history.”