LONDON: England were waiting to discover on Tuesday if they would be without Ben Stokes for the third Test against Pakistan as coach Trevor Bayliss insisted they could cope with the absence of the key all-rounder.
Stokes suffered a calf injury while bowling on Monday as England closed in on a mammoth 330-run win in the second Test at Old Trafford to level the four-match series at 1-1.
The sight of a grimacing Stokes slowly walking off the field in Manchester suggested that, at the very least, the Durham star would struggle to be fit for the third Test at Birmingham’s Edgbaston ground which gets underway a week on Wednesday.
Doing without Stokes, however, is something England have got used to in a season where he has started only two out of five Tests and has not finished one.
A left knee injury cut short Stokes’s participation in the first Test against Sri Lanka in May and left the 25-year-old needing surgery which saw him miss the final two Tests of that series, as well as the subsequent one-dayers and lone Twenty20.
But in Stokes’s absence, Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes — also a pace-bowling all-rounder — seized the chance to revive an international career that appeared to have come to a halt, producing an impressive series of performances with both bat and ball.
Nevertheless, England coach Trevor Bayliss remains well aware of Stokes’s value to the team.
“If he does miss out, it will give someone else an opportunity,” said Bayliss at Old Trafford following England’s commanding victory at Lancashire’s headquarters.
“Yes, he’s a big player for us — he adds a lot of spark to the team.
“He bats, bowls and he’s a leader in the field — so it is a bit of a hole.
“But Woakes has done brilliantly so far this season, so we are lucky in that aspect.”