Will Ben Stokes bowl in fourth India Test?

The visitors suffered a humiliated 434-run defeat in the third Test

By Web Desk
February 21, 2024
England's red-ball skipper Ben Stokes. — Reuters

England's middle-order batter Ollie Pope stated that there is a strong possibility of Ben Stokes bowling in the fourth Test against India, as the England captain is reportedly pleased with how his knee has responded during training sessions.

Stokes has refrained from bowling since England's second Ashes Test against Australia last summer and underwent surgery in November to ensure his readiness for this winter's tour.

Seen bowling in the nets on Tuesday, the 32-year-old seems likely to test his knee in Ranchi as England seeks to recover from a significant 434-run defeat in Rajkot — the team's most substantial loss since World War II.

In the previous match, with England trailing 2-1 in the series, the team fielded an attack comprising James Anderson, Mark Wood, Tom Hartley, and Rehan Ahmed, with Joe Root providing a third spin option. It is widely speculated that seamer Ollie Robinson could make a return to the XI.

Asked whether Stokes could bowl at the JSCA International Stadium, England vice-captain Pope told reporters: "Yeah, I think there is definitely a chance.

"He’s not confirmed it yet, even in the dressing room, so I think he’s going to see. He bowled at the batters today [yesterday] so he’s going to see how he pulls up tomorrow [today] and see how he goes.

"If that’s good then hopefully we can see him with the ball in his hand in the game."

Pope believed that Stokes' "competitive edge" could make him bowl in the fourth Test as England need to win the match in Ranchi.

"If he’s not too sore, that’s a positive sign,’ the Surrey batter added. He didn’t want to put himself under too much pressure early by saying he was going to be bowling, so he’s played it day by day with how his knee is feeling.

"I think he’s been impressed by how his knee has been going. He’s had a good bowl against our batters.

"We know what he’s like, he’s got that competitive edge. There’s every chance he’ll bowl but he’s not confirmed it yet."