ENGLAND’S hopes of averting a whitewash in the West Indies were hit when Ben Stokes emerged as a doubt for the third Test, with Ben Foakes and Chris Woakes also managing injuries.
If the worst happened and all three were ruled out of the final match of the series in St Lucia, which begins tomorrow, England would have just 12 fit players.
Stokes was present at training yesterday, England’s first full session since their three-day defeat in Antigua, but did not take part due to bruising on his right heel.
Foakes, who was hit on the hand by a Shannon Gabriel delivery last week and was unable to keep wicket in the second innings, was involved but has yet to be given the green light by medical staff. Woakes is highly unlikely to make it as he nurses a long-standing knee complaint.
Restructuring the side, or just the batting order, remains possible but with Adil Rashid having flown home to be with his pregnant wife options are limited.
Mark Wood has not played Test cricket since May but his extra pace looks attractive due to Sam Curran’s struggles in the series. And if Stokes’ ability to bowl was compromised he would become an essential pick.
The tourists have seen their techniques and temperaments picked apart in the first two Tests having been bowled out for 77, 246, 187 and 132. Head coach Trevor Bayliss has called them out for lacking ‘guts and determination’ and ‘will to fight’ and vice-captain Jos Buttler has admitted the message has hit home with the squad.
He said: ‘As a player when those kind of things are questioned it can hurt your pride, so you want to prove him wrong. The guts, courage and determination of the group is very strong.
‘But these are things that certain guys have shown in the past.
‘We have not been good enough to show that at times on this tour and we will be looking to show lots more of that.’
■ WEST INDIES captain Jason Holder has signed up to play for Northamptonshire for part of the 2019 season.
Holder (below), who hit an unbeaten 202 in the first Test, has guided his team to an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series against England in the Caribbean – but is banned for the final Test because of the Windies’ slow over-rate.
He will be available for Northants’ opening two County Championship matches and their first six One-Day Cup games.
The 27-year-old, ranked as the No.1 all-rounder in the world, said: ‘England is somewhere I’ve wanted to play for a long time and I’m looking forward to testing myself in different conditions.’