Decision on star England all-rounder's availability for Hyderabad Test to be taken at the penultimate moment

The player had expressed his confidence in being fit for the opening Test but England head coach Brendon McCullum is yet to confirm.
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The England team will be eyeing to break a jinx of 10 years and win a Test series on Indian soil since their last victory in 2012-13. However, what would be a major setback for The Three Lions is if star all-rounder Ben Stokes had to be withdrawn from the opening Hyderabad Test owing to injury issues. 

Stokes underwent surgery on his left knee in November last year to address a persistent issue, largely presumed to be patellar tendonitis. This had limited his bowling involvement since 2022 and he abstained from bowling in professional cricket after July. Despite this, Stokes made a return to the 2023 World Cup after reversing his retirement, only playing as a specialist batter. Notably, he also refrained from bowling during the recent training camp in Abu Dhabi, right before their journey to India.

Head coach Brendon McCullum however, expresses optimism regarding skipper Ben Stokes participating in the upcoming opening Test match against India scheduled for January 25. McCullum also clarified that the final decision on Stokes will be made at the penultimate moment.

England coach gives update on Ben Stokes' status

Before undergoing surgery, Stokes had expressed confidence in being fit for the Hyderabad Test against India but McCullum is yet to confirm his participation. Speaking to reporters after a training session today (January 22), McCullum said: “He looks like a greyhound. He’s put the work in, everyone knows his work ethic is phenomenal.

The England coach added, “I’ve seen him running around and I think he’s good to go. We’ll obviously make that call as late as what we need to. But he’s put all the work in, and we’ll just have to wait and see.”

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Even if Stokes is cleared to play the first Test, it is unlikely that he will bowl, playing only as a middle-order batter.

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