Ben Stokes warned his gamers there may be no excuses a couple of lack of depth in Wednesday’s landmark first Take a look at in opposition to West Indies, with England poised to go away Stuart Broad out of their XI and go for extra tempo.
The sequence opener in Southampton represents the return of Take a look at cricket after greater than 4 months and follows an enormous operation by the England and Wales Cricket Board to get worldwide video games staged behind closed doorways in biosecure circumstances.
The stringent measures in place for either side, which embody common Covid-19 testing and a ban on making use of saliva to the ball, will not be the one marked distinction on the day, with Broad anticipated to make approach for Mark Wooden.
Broad, 34, is England’s main wicket-taker during the last 12 months, a veteran of 138 caps and has not missed a house Take a look at since 2012. However Stokes, the captain attributable to Joe Root’s paternity depart, and the pinnacle coach Chris Silverwood need to see Wooden in tandem with a fellow fast, Jofra Archer, whereas Jimmy Anderson additionally returns to take the brand new ball.
Stokes, who will title his remaining XI on Wednesday morning, admitted planning in direction of the 2021-22 Ashes is now a think about choice. The jam-packed summer time schedule means Broad and Chris Woakes, the opposite seamer prone to miss out, won’t be mixing the drinks for lengthy however it could however be a watershed second.
“This can be a large event for lots of people across the nation,” mentioned Stokes, who turns into the 81st man to guide England in Take a look at cricket and confirmed that the 2 groups will carry out a “gesture” in assist of Black Lives Matter earlier than the match – anticipated to be a collective taking of the knee.
“We all know we have now that accountability on our shoulders to exit and do justice for all these individuals. We will’t use [the lack of a crowd] as an excuse to not really feel up for this recreation as a result of we all know we have now lots of of 1000’s of individuals following us and wanting us to do properly.”
Whereas Anderson and Archer are technically the bowlers returning to the aspect – each noticed their winter excursions of South Africa ended early by damage – it could be sturdy present of religion in Wooden, who claimed 9 victims in his earlier Take a look at in Johannesburg and a maiden five-wicket haul when England final met West Indies in St Lucia in 2019.
Stokes mentioned: “I’ve been dreading it, within the final three days, having to ship unhealthy information to some lads. It’s not a pleasant factor to have the ability to do however that comes with being the captain. It’s obtained to be accomplished.”
Requested about Wooden, his beforehand injury-plagued Durham teammate, Stokes replied: “The transformation, from a psychological aspect, has been phenomenal. He’s had troubles prior to now with accidents and, from an in depth buddy’s viewpoint, I’m so excited with the place he’s at with the whole lot.
“All the troubles he would have had about his physique two or three years in the past appear to have disappeared. And the abilities he possesses are very uncommon to have in a bowler.
“I really feel as if we’re ready now with the Take a look at staff like we had been with the one-day aspect in 2015 once we began constructing for the  World Cup. We’re constructing for the Ashes in Australia and India [next winter]. To have the crop of fast-bowlers we now possess is a superb place to be as a Take a look at aspect.”
Stokes revealed that Root had left a message on the coat-hanger of his captain’s blazer that merely learn “do it your approach” and went on to provide a usually bullish reply within the media convention when requested about the way forward for Take a look at cricket, saying its extinction can be “a catastrophe” however “it’s not going anyplace”.
On the Black Lives Matter motion, logos for which shall be additionally worn on the collars of both teams, Stokes insisted it was not an endorsement of the UK political marketing campaign of the identical title, however slightly the broader world message.
He added: “Not solely have we used this era to construct ourselves up for a Take a look at sequence, but in addition an opportunity to teach each other about Black Lives Matter. Mark Saxby, our masseur, has been an actual chief in that. What we have to do is get the message about equality in society and sport round the entire world. We now have a large alternative to do one thing actually highly effective.”
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