England Test coach Brendon McCullum hopes that the captain Ben Stokes will be able to carry out his all-rounder role in the upcoming Ashes series against Australia but is not willing to put his long-term health at risk, Skysports.com reported.
England will face Australia in the Ashes series beginning on June 16 at Edgbaston.
The five-match series against their oldest opponents comes only 17 months after a humiliating 4-0 defeat in Australia, yet the England side of 2021/22 pales in relevance to the team presently playing 'BazBall'.
There are still worries about Stokes' ability to play a full role with the red ball against Australia. He is recovering from a knee injury and did not bowl on the first day of the Ireland Test at Lord's on Thursday.
Stokes battled a knee injury and other concerns through the latter half of that hot streak which limited his ability to bowl, but the England Test coach is confident that the English captain can contribute to the team even if he doesn't bowl a ball.
"The skipper writes his own scripts and this is the biggest stage you can probably get. He has got something up his sleeve. He is going to have to push through the pain barrier at times but we know he is not afraid of that," McCullum was quoted as saying by Skysports.com.
"We just have to make sure we monitor it. If anything, it might be that we have to pull him back at times and make sure there is longevity in there as well. He has a long life to live after cricket and I want to make sure he can do all the things he can. If he doesn't bowl a ball he will still have a tremendous impact in this series. He is an absolute beauty and we are so lucky to have him as our captain," he added.
Over the last year, the 31-year-old has taken on a new leadership role as captain of a reinvigorated team that has won 10 of their last 12 Tests while playing an electric style of red-ball cricket. The previous time Australia arrived for a Test series, Stokes was probably at the pinnacle of his abilities, having played a key role in England's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup success and then staying in the spotlight with match-winning exploits against their traditional rivals.
The Ashes series takes place fewer than 18 months after Australia thrashed England 4-0, but Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum have changed their strategy to great effect.
Speaking about his philosophy, McCullum said, "Cricket has been everything to me. It has given me a great life and I will forever be thankful for that. It is worth remembering that and having that sincere gratitude towards the game whether you are succeeding or failing."
"The real fun for us as coaches is working with the guys, building those relationships and getting to know them as people. Seeing what their life is like and working with them on their skills. Whatever happens on the field happens - it's not like we don't care but it's almost secondary. There will be times where the players succeed and times where they fail but it's other stuff where you see them grow as cricketers and humans which is where the real fun is," he added. (ANI)