England have been dealt another blow ahead of the Test series against India as middle-order batsman Ollie Pope has been ruled out due to a thigh strain. Experienced batter Jonny Bairstow, who had a torrid time during the Test series in India earlier this year, is set to replace Pope in Nottingham.
Earlier, England’s frail batting was further weakened after match-winning all-rounder Ben Stokes decided to pull out of the India Tests to focus on his mental well-being.
According to a report in The Telegraph, Pope failed to prove his fitness in the nets at Trent Bridge on Tuesday and hence was declared unavailable for the first Test. England have the option of going in with Dan Lawrence as well. He scored 81 in one of the Tests against New Zealand. However, with Stokes also unavailable, England are likely to go back to the experienced Bairstow.
Bairstow registered three ducks in four innings during the tour of India in the Test matches. However, could things be easier in familiar conditions back home as he gets a chance to resume his career in the longer format of the game.
Both India and England have been hampered by injury and fitness issues ahead of the first Test. While Indian opener Shubman Gill was earlier ruled out of the entire series, Mayank Agarwal was declared unfit for the first Test after being struck on the helmet during practice.
Joe Root backs England to win without Ben Stokes
While the loss of Stokes is a massive setback for England, skipper Joe Root earlier stated that the hosts have found ways to win without Stokes in the past as well. According to Root, it is an opportunity for others to stand up and prove their mettle.
Speaking at a recent pre-match conference, Root had stated:
“In my opinion, there is no one who compares to Ben Stokes in world cricket. For a long time, he has very much been the heartbeat of this team. But that does present opportunities for others to step up and put a big performance. We have seen in the past the guys have been able to manage that. There have been times when we have been without Ben, and the likes of Sam Curran and Chris Woakes have come in.”
“Against India last series, Chris performed at Lord’s, and Sam throughout that whole series. More recently, at Old Trafford against Pakistan, the partnership between Jos Buttler and Woakes was match-defining. We have found ways to manage to win without Ben. And this is another opportunity for us to try and do that. Hopefully, we can start it this week at Trent Bridge and then take it forward.”
The Englishmen trounced India 4-1 the last time the two sides met in England in 2018.