England Test skipper and Chennai Super Kings all-rounder Ben Stokes wants to bombard Australia with express pace, while also banking on typically seaming home conditions, when the arch-rivals clash during the Ashes later this year.
Even as England will continue to employ ‘Bazball’ — the ultra-aggressive batting approach to overpower Australia when they tour England for the series in June —, Stokes said he wants to add a fresh threat to the hosts’ combative game plan that has seen them win 10 out of the 12 Test under new coach Brendon McCullum.
“I could pick a 20-man squad if I wanted to,” Stokes was quoted as saying by Sky sports.
“I have asked the medical team to give us eight bowlers to choose from and this year the games are close together, so being able to have those resources available in every game is something I am keen to have.” The 31-year-old, who is nursing a toe injury but should be fit to play for CSK in the next 4-5 days, added that he already has the playing XI in mind in their endeavour to regain the urn.
The five-match Ashes series will commence at Edgbaston on June 16 and England would be hoping to avenge the humiliation of a 0-4 debacle under Joe Root in 2021-22.
“We are fortunate to have a pick of a group of English players we have. I think I know where the starting 11 is going to be there or thereabouts,” added Stokes.
With England scoring at an amazing 4.76 runs an over in Tests since Stokes and McCullum came together, pace could add a new dimension to the side.
England have a pace attack overflowing with talent, and if only the likes of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Olly Stone can remain fit, they can be more than a handful along with veteran seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the two most successful quicks in the world.
Archer had made a superb Test debut when Australia last toured England in 2019 but since then he has been restricted to only 13 red-ball games due to injuries to his elbow and back. Though he has returned to action for Mumbai Indians after an 18-month layoff, doubts over his fitness remain.
“Jimmy (Anderson) and Broad had been so protective over their economy rates, but now they have seen a different side to it,” Stokes added.
“Having those two with a ‘fine to go for runs mentality’ is something that will do us fine if Australia come back at us.” Stokes, who himself has 194 Test wickets, is confident he can overcome his knee problem to support the pace attack.
“I’ve worked so hard over the last month, five weeks, to get where I am now. Being able to bowl pain-free, touch wood, has been good. I went for 18 runs (in one over against Lucknow Super Giants on April 3), but I was like ‘oh I managed to bowl an over without pain in my knee’.
“The main priority for me is making sure that I can fulfil my role as fourth seamer in the Ashes,” he added.