Friday, 29 September, 2023

England suffer Stokes scare against gutsy Ireland

England suffer Stokes scare against gutsy Ireland

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England captain Ben Stokes appeared to suffer a fresh injury problem as his side ran into some determined Ireland resistance in their Ashes warm-up at Lord's on Saturday.

The star all-rounder, who has been battling a longstanding knee injury, hobbled after taking a catch to dismiss Curtis Campher but remained on the field.

Ireland, in a Test being played over four days rather than the standard five, frustrated England's hopes of a rapid win by reaching lunch on 215-6 in their second innings.

Andy McBrine was 19 not out and Mark Adair 32 not out, although Ireland were still 137 runs behind and in danger of an innings defeat.

Ireland, in just their seventh Test and still searching for a first win at this level, resumed on 97-3.

That left them 255 runs adrift after England had been taken to an imposing total thanks to Ollie Pope's 205, the fastest double century in a Test in England, and Ben Duckett's 182, the quickest 150 in a Lord's Test.

They suffered a further blow before play started Saturday when it was announced that James McCollum -- who top-scored with an obdurate 36 in their first-innings 172 -- was "unlikely" to feature again in the match having retired hurt Friday when twisting his right ankle trying to pull Josh Tongue.

Ireland lost just one wicket in Saturday's opening hour, with left-arm spinner Jack Leach removing Lorcan Tucker for an attractive 44 before two went down with the score on 162.

Harry Tector, a delivery after completing an attractive 97-ball fifty, holed out to point to give England debutant fast bowler Tongue his fourth wicket of the innings.

Campher then miscued a sweep off part-time spinner Joe Root to short fine leg where Stokes, who has been battling a longstanding knee injury ahead, hobbled after taking a simple catch.

The dismissal was Stokes's first direct involvement in a match where he has yet to bat or bowl.

England are keen to do all they can to protect the all-rounder's fitness ahead of the Ashes opener at Edgbaston starting on June 16, while still benefitting from the all-rounder's leadership skills that have helped the side win 10 of their 12 Tests since he joined forces with coach Brendon McCullum last year.

Root's six overs cost 45 runs, however, as McBrine and Adair hit out.