England taking cautious approach over Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler returns
Eoin Morgan insists there was no temptation to rush Ben Stokes back for England’s one-day series against Pakistan and will take a similarly cautious approach with Jos Buttler.
Stokes fractured his left index finger while fielding for Rajasthan Royals in April and spent several weeks recovering from surgery before making his comeback for Durham last month.
The all-rounder has since played six times in the Vitality Blast, with a top score of 35 and eight wickets under his belt, and is currently making his first-class return in the LV= Insurance County Championship against Warwickshire.
But he will not be involved in the three-match Royal London Series against Pakistan, which starts in Cardiff on Thursday, as England favour a conservative approach over his fitness and conditioning.
He will also miss the first ODI at Lord’s since his player-of-the-match heroics in the 2019 World Cup final, but getting him ready for the summer’s main course – five Tests against India – is a priority.
Asked if Stokes had been considered for action this week, Morgan said: “No, not quite yet.
“The last thing we want to do is rush somebody back and jump with the level of intensity from county cricket to international when there isn’t necessarily a need. We are happy for Ben to progress as he sees fit, and obviously we have one eye on the Test series as well.”
Buttler is currently sidelined with a calf injury and with so much cricket ahead – including a T20 World Cup and an away Ashes tour over the winter – his case is also being handled carefully.
“We’re not quite sure at the minute, but from what I’m hearing calves can be quite temperamental,” said Morgan.
“It just depends on how he feels. It’s a similar instance to Ben, the priority wouldn’t be to get him back as soon as possible if there’s a 50-50 chance. I know he progressed his running a couple of days ago and does feel good, but things can change.”
With Jofra Archer also currently sidelined, the uncapped George Garton was called up to the squad for the series against Sri Lanka, along with fringe players such as Liam Dawson and Tom Banton.
All three were left out of the final game of the Sri Lankan trip on Sunday, despite England having eased to victory in each of the previous five.
The match in Bristol was ultimately washed out after England dismissed the tourists for 166, but Morgan was happy to explain the logic behind the conservative team selection.
“It’s very rare that we will put somebody in for a one-off game. The reason behind that is it doesn’t hold a lot of context unless it’s dealing with a string of games,” he said.
“When you identify a player or a talent to come into a squad, I believe you should always invest in that talent and think long term…give him a number of opportunities and not just one.
“For years I’ve watched guys come in and out of sides and been given one-off games and, whether it’s opportunity or form, they have not given them many after that. It’s not a way that you want to treat a good asset, or an asset for the future.”
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