- Ben Stokes recovers from hip injury and aims to return to World Cup squad
- England consider cautious approach ahead of crucial South Africa clash
- Joe Root says he sees ‘good signs’ from Stokes during his healing process
Joe Root has seen “good signs” from Ben Stokes as he steps up his recovery from injury, but England’s World Cup clash against Afghanistan on Sunday could still come too soon.
Stokes called off his ODI retirement to take part in England’s defense of the trophy, but suffered a hip problem on the eve of the tournament and watched the first two matches from the sidelines.
He gradually increased his workload and completed running and fielding drills at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium on Saturday evening before a long net session under the lights.
The 32-year-old is clearly struggling to get back on the court, but his movement seemed restricted at the crease and he didn’t look entirely comfortable, despite some powerful hits on throws from the batting coach Marcus Trescothick.
The temptation to put him back in the team is obvious but, with a crucial clash against in-form South Africa on the horizon next week, England could take a cautious approach.
Ben Stokes is likely to miss England’s upcoming World Cup clash with Afghanistan on Sunday.
Stokes is recovering from hip injury and expected to make return against South Africa
The worst-case scenario would see him worsen the problem for disadvantaged Afghans and further delay their recovery.
“Ben seems to be getting better every day, he’s been training really well, he’s had a bat and seems to be getting better,” Root said, echoing the familiar sentiments that emerged from the England camp.
“These are all good signs. As we all know, any team with Ben is much stronger, but he has to be fit to play. We will see if this is the case for tomorrow.
While Stokes is still waiting for his first opportunity to leave his mark on the competition, Root is at his best since arriving in India.
He struggled to find runs and timing during the tune-up series against New Zealand at home – sent off for six, zero, four and a scratching 29 – leading to fears that the highest scorer team is in a rut.
But he dismissed the idea with smooth shots of 77 and 82 and credits a change in mentality with unlocking his form.
“I found this New Zealand series quite strange, I was trying to find something to come to the World Cup,” he admitted.
“But when you get here and you’re in that tournament mentality of ‘this is what it’s all about,’ you have to stand up and deliver.
England captain Jos Buttler will decide when to bring Stokes back into the team, despite progress
Harry Brook (pictured) is set to drop out of the England squad to accommodate Stokes.
“It’s a different mindset and it really helped me come here. You have true purpose in what you do. I love playing cricket in India. This suits my game very well.
Chris Woakes rejoined training after a day off due to illness, meaning England once again have a full complement of bowlers.
They could remain unchanged after their win over Bangladesh in Dharamshala, but will consider Surrey’s Gus Atkinson if they decide to rest Mark Wood.