Cricket

Ben Stokes To Bowl? England Coach Brendon McCullum Hints At Tactical Change For Fourth India Test

Ben Stokes is in the running to bowl against India in the fourth Test at Ranchi, confirmed England Test coach Brendon McCullum

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England's captain Ben Stokes (left) and teammate Tom Hartley celebrate victory in the first Test match against India in Hyderabad Photo: AP
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Back-to-back heavy defeats against India have compelled England captain Ben Stokes to consider an early return to bowling with head coach Brendon McCullum admitting that although it's a good sign, they don't want the all-rounder to push himself unnecessarily. (More Cricket News)

Stokes, who is still recovering from a knee surgery, hasn't bowled since the second Ashes Test in June last year.

"Well, it's good that he's actually getting into a state where he thinks he might bowl," McCullum was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo on Monday.

"But Ben is clever; he's really clever as well. He won't bowl unless he thinks he's legitimately able to bowl. The problem would be if he starts getting into a spell and then he can't get out of the spell. So we'll see what unfolds.

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"If he does get that bit between his teeth, then let's see where the danger lies there and try and pull him away from it. But it's a good sign," McCullum added.

Ahead of the Rajkot Test, Stokes had said he "pinky promised" his physiotherapist he won't be bowling in the ongoing series.

But when asked if he will be reprising his all-rounder's role after the 434-run defeat in the third Test on Sunday, Stokes said, "I'm not saying yes, I'm not saying no".

"Me being me, I'm always very optimistic about most things. That will be a more detailed chat with the medical team about what workload I have done to pass me off as not being a massive risk."

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During the Rajkot Test, Stokes had even trained at 100 per cent intensity and conceded that he felt pretty good.

"I managed to bowl at 100 per cent in one of the warm-up days here which made me feel pretty good. I felt like I could have bowled in the game but that would have been stupid."

After winning the series opener by 28 runs, England fell to a 106-run defeat followed by one of their worst losses in Rajkot to go 2-1 down in the series with matches left in Ranchi and Dharamsala.

The England team would benefit immensely if the pace all-rounder started bowling again. The visitors opted to field just one seamer in the first two Tests. They dropped Shoaib Bashir to pick both James Anderson and Mark Wood in the third game.

England's "Bazball" approach has also backfired big time in the third Test which they lost by a massive 434 runs, their largest defeat in terms of runs since 1934.

But McCullum said while the defeat is definitely hurting the visitors, they will continue with their attacking 'Bazball' approach in the remainder of the five-match series.

McCullum said he has "no regrets" about their approach.

"We'll turn the page and go quids in again trying to put India under pressure," McCullum was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.

"Hopefully, in seven or eight days we'll be talking about how exciting it is to be heading into a decider."

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