England sweating on fitness of Ben Stokes after star all-rounder injures his left KNEE on another chastening day in the first Test of the Ashes – and Ollie Robinson leaves the field of play early with a THIGH issue against Australia
England were left sweating over the fitness of Ben Stokes at the end of the second day of a first Test at the Gabba where they already face near certain defeat.
Stokes appeared to damage his left knee diving in the field while Ollie Robinson, England’s best bowler as Australia amassed 343 for seven, a surely decisive lead of 196, went off towards the end the day for ‘maintenance’ as another Ashes nightmare began to unfold.
Travis Head, who just pipped Usman Khawaja to bat at No5 in this Test, smashed the third fastest hundred in Ashes history while Australia deliberately attacked the spin of Jack Leach, who again struggled to fill a containing role and went for 95 off 11 overs.
England were left sweating over the fitness of Ben Stokes at the end of the second day
The tourists’ star all-rounder appeared to damage his left knee diving in the field at the Gabba
And the vital presence of Stokes, returning in this Test for the first time since July, will be assessed by England’s medical staff overnight as England desperately try to stay in this opening match and quite probably the series.
‘Ben didn’t bowl full pace at the back end of the day and he will be looked at to see how he is,’ said England bowling coach Jon Lewis. ‘I don’t know if he will be able to bowl his full allocation. We will see how he pulls up in the morning.’
It was a chastening day for Stokes who was seen to have delivered 14 no balls in the first session with only one being picked up by the on-field umpires.
He also ‘bowled’ David Warner, who went on to 94, on just 17 with only his fourth ball before he was found to have over-stepped by the TV official.
It was a tough day for Stokes who was seen to have delivered 14 no balls in the first session
He also ‘bowled’ David Warner, on just 17 before he was found to have over-stepped
It later transpired that the technology was not working and only wicket-taking balls were able to be checked, a development slammed by former Australia captain Ricky Ponting during Channel 7’s coverage of the Test.
‘A fast bowler needs some understanding of where his feet are,’ said the former England and Gloucestershire seamer Lewis.
‘You can’t see your own feet. That was Ben’s first bowl on this ground for eight years so he needs some feedback from the umpires to see where his feet are and then make an adjustment. It would have been nice had the first one been picked up and from then on he would have been behind the line.’
Robinson was the pick of the attack in his first overseas Test, building on his impressive work against India last summer to take three for 48. But he too ended up bowling at little more than 70 mph and feeling his thigh before failing to take the second new ball.
Robinson was the pick of the attack in his first overseas Test, taking three wickets for 48 runs
‘My body is doing okay,’ insisted Robinson afterwards. ‘I came off for some strapping and maintenance but I’ll rest up tonight and come back tomorrow.’
It was a low-key end to a positive day for Robinson, who enjoyed his first taste of Ashes conditions having excelled for the Lions in Australia and being earmarked for this tour in 2020.
‘I’ve not really played anywhere like this before,’ said the Sussex seamer. ‘The closest place would be Headingley. It’s nice to have bounce as a big guy and get that extra carry. It definitely helped having spent some time in Australia before because it meant I could come over here and learn to bowl with the Kookaburra ball.
But he too ended up bowling at little more than 70 mph and feeling his thigh late in the day
It was a low-key end to a positive day for Robinson, who enjoyed his first taste of Ashes cricket
‘It came out well today. I was consistent and had a lot of plays and misses. I sort of felt like I was going to get Warner out every over. He left well at times but there were times I thought he was going to nick it.’
Lewis defended England’s decision to leave out both Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, who were seen bowling at full pelt in the Gabba nets as if to rub salt in England’s wounds, and backed those bowlers who are playing to hit back as the series progresses.
‘There’s a lot of character in our side,’ he said. ‘I know they’ve been through some sticky situations before and they have been alright. They will dust themselves down tonight and come back strong tomorrow.’