England captain Ben Stokes eased concerns about his ability to bowl in the upcoming Ashes series because of long-standing knee issues and said on Wednesday that he is planning to play every Test this summer.
“Unless I can’t walk, I’ll be on the field,” Stokes said with a smile the day before England begin their one-off Test against Ireland, which serves as a warmup for the five-match Ashes series against Australia.
After having knee issues during the tour of New Zealand in February, Stokes played only twice for Chennai Super Kings in the recently-finished Indian Premier League, sending down just one over for 18 runs.
However, the 31-year-old Stokes said his knee is much better than it was in New Zealand and he will take his place in the England team as an all-rounder against Ireland at Lord’s and then Australia.
“What I have done is I have got myself in a position where I’m not able to look back and regret or say I’ve not given myself the best opportunity to play a full role with the ball this summer,” Stokes said.
“I’ve worked incredibly hard with the medical team in Chennai, liaising with the ECB guys. I have got myself into a place where I feel like back at 2019, 2020 space in terms of my own body and fitness and everything like that.”
Pushed about the exact nature of his knee problem, Stokes said: “We know what it is and it’s about managing it. It’s managing it with workload and working it with the medical team just to get through it.”
Seamer Josh Tongue is making his debut for England in the Test against Ireland, while James Anderson and Ollie Robinson are rested.
Ireland have lost all six matches since gaining Test status in 2017. That includes a defeat against England at Lord’s in 2019. Captain Andrew Balbirnie has said beating England would be “the biggest moment in Irish cricket history.”