England will assess star all-rounder Ben Stokes’s fitness to bowl in this week’s fifth Test with Australia at the Oval as they look for a consolation win after failing to regain the Ashes.
Stokes was included in an unchanged 13-man England squad announced Monday following a 185-run defeat in the fourth Test on Sunday that ensured Australia would keep hold of the Ashes at 2-1 up with one to play in the five-Test series.
Durham paceman Stokes, England’s vice-captain, did not bowl in Australia’s second innings at Old Trafford following a shoulder injury sustained during his 11th over in the tourists’ first innings.
If Stokes is unfit to bowl at the Oval, where the fifth Test starts on Thursday, he is expected to play as a specialist batsman — it was his stunning 135 not out that saw England to a dramatic one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley.
In that case, England would look to bring in a bowling all-rounder from within the squad in either Sam Curran, who would be playing on his Surrey home ground, or Chris Woakes.
Both Curran and Woakes missed out at Old Trafford.
If either of the pair play should England coach Trevor Bayliss, in what will be his last Test before he stands down from his post, and captain Joe Root make a change to the side, it would likely mean one of the hosts’ struggling specialist batsmen having to make way.
England squad for fifth Test:
Rory Burns (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ben Stokes (Durham), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire, wkt), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Sam Curran (Surrey)