England won't risk Ben Stokes against Afghanistan

England won’t risk Ben Stokes against Afghanistan with a return from injury more likely to take place against South Africa as Harry Brook prepares to miss out

  • The England all-rounder is still recovering from a problematic hip injury
  • Ben Stokes is likely to not be rushed back to face Afghanistan on Sunday
  • Harry Brook is likely to make way for Stokes when the all-rounder returns

Ben Stokes is likely to miss Sunday’s World Cup game against Afghanistan, with England set to delay his return from a hip injury until next week’s clash with South Africa.

Stokes took part in training at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in India’s capital on Friday night, and is making good progress from the niggle that ruled him out of the games against New Zealand and Bangladesh. A return ahead of schedule cannot be entirely ruled out.

But the management may choose to play it safe ahead of a match England are expected to win, and ensure he is fit to take on a South African side who have started the World Cup with a bang, having thrashed Australia in Lucknow on Thursday.

His return – whenever it happens – will leave England needing to decide which player to leave out, with Harry Brook at the front of the queue as the squad’s designated spare batter.

Brook has so far promised provided only glimpses of his talent, hitting 25 off 16 balls against New Zealand before providing a catch in the deep aiming for a fourth successive boundary off spinner Rachin Ravindra, and 20 off 15 against Bangladesh, when he perished in the late push for runs as England batted first.

Ben Stokes is likely to miss England’s upcoming World Cup clash against Afghanistan on Sunday

Stokes has been recovering from a hip injury and is likely to make his return against South Africa

But a big score against Afghanistan, who have begun the tournament with defeats by Bangladesh and India, would leave coach Matthew Mott and captain Jos Buttler with a tricky decision when England head for Mumbai to take on South Africa.

‘Obviously Stokesy has to come back in,’ said Brook. ‘He’s one of the best players to ever play for England. Whether it’s me or someone else missing out, he’s 100% coming back.’

And while Brook has made an impressive start in Tests and T20 internationals, his eight-match ODI career is yet to take off, with a lone half-century and an average of 21.

‘I’ve had a couple of starts, but it would have been nice if I’d have gone on, especially against New Zealand.

Harry Brook (pictured) is set to drop out of the England team to accommodate for Stokes 

England captain Jos Buttler will decide when to bring Stokes back into the fray

‘I’m very inexperienced in this format. It does make a big difference having not played it. But hopefully I can pick it up fairly quickly, and if I get another go then try and make a big score.

‘It’s almost approaching the start of your innings like a Test match, and the longer you’re in the easier it gets. You’ve got to construct an innings better than I have done so far. You just keep trying to learn and figure out the format.

‘Everybody’s just said you’ve got a lot more time than you think. I’ve played so much Twenty20 cricket over the last couple of years, if you see a ball go above your eyeline, your eyes light up and you want to smack it.’

Meanwhile, Chris Woakes – who has struggled for rhythm – missed England’s practice session with illness, potentially opening the door for David Willey or Gus Atkinson to play their first game of the competition.

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