Ben Stokes is unlikely to bowl again in the ongoing fourth Test and could be a doubt for next week’s Ashes series finale in Hobart, after sustaining an injury to his left side on the second day of play at SCG. On Thursday, he managed just five balls of his fourth over before leaving the field, clutching his side, whereupon Mark Wood delivered the final ball of the over. For now, the England management has held off sending Stokes for a scan and having returned to the field soon after his assessment he would be free to bat at No. 5 if he is fit to do so. However, he spent much of the rest of the day fielding in the slip cordon – a position that allowed him not to run as much as he might have elsewhere on the field, but one from which he has been shielded in recent times, in the aftermath of the recent finger injury.
In his absence, England’s seam burden was shared between James Anderson, Wood, and Stuart Broad, who was the standout performer with figures of 5 for 101.”He’s one of the toughest blokes I’ve ever met, the toughest cricketer I’ve ever met,” Broad said at the close. “For him to go off and not bowl… it’s obviously sore. But he’s icing it at the moment. We’ve no information on what’s happened in his side.”Hopefully, we give him a lot of rest tomorrow. Twelve-24 hours in cricket is quite a long time. It gives the body a lot of time to heal. We’ll wait and see. He stayed on the field so he could bat in his usual position. He’s a tough character. He’ll be out there if it’s not torn to shreds. We as England fans and teammates hope it’s not as bad as him not bowling again on this trip.”
Stokes, who came into the Ashes after a long break during the English season to manage his mental health in the wake of a broken finger, has struggled to make an impact on the series so far, with 101 runs at 16.83 and four wickets at 71.50 in the first three-and-a-bit Tests. However, with the ball, he has been consistently used in an enforcer’s role by Joe Root, tasked with bowling lengthy spells of short-pitched bowling to unsettle Australia’s batters.
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