Ben Stokes has been ruled out of England’s warm-up match against Australia A, but the selector Ashley Giles said the all-rounder is due to be fit to play in the first Ashes Test on 8 July.
Samit Patel has been called up as cover ahead of the four-day game at the SCG, when Moeen Ali, who has been suffering from gastroenteritis, will join the squad. “We are looking at Moeen to fit in,” Giles said. “We have Samit in mind but we’ll see how it goes. We feel he [Stokes] will be fine for the opening day but for the actual Tests it’s doubtful.
“He has rolled a few joints and has done some things with his ankle. We will see how it develops and he will be on the front foot to get fit for the first Test.”
Samit Patel, batting at No7, may replace Ben Stokes against Australia. Photograph: Andrew Fairweather/Action Images via Reuters
Jonny Bairstow was the last man to be ruled out of the match after suffering a dead leg in the warm-up at Essex. “Jonny has had an ongoing problem with his leg. He’s had a sore foot as well in the last couple of days and he’s got a dead leg. He’s going to have to miss the game,” Giles said.
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Among the selections is a new selection panel. Giles will take charge of the Test team for the first time and James Whitaker, who has been in charge of the one-day squad, returns to the international setup.
“There’s no exactness there [on the make-up of the next Test team], it’s a very fluid situation at the moment,” Giles said. “We don’t want to leave ourselves too much open to surprises.
“We want to get this Test series right as quick as we can, and then once we have started to get to some degree of clarity it won’t be a terrible surprise to see that a few things are going to change.”
Former captain Michael Vaughan praised Giles’ new committee and described the England selector James Whitaker as “really clever”. Vaughan has been critical of Moeen, saying he is “way too much of a batsman” and “needs to move” to open the batting.
Whitaker and Giles disagreed, with the latter arguing that Stokes is England’s best one-day cricketer. “You put it to Mike with averages of 34.6 [in ODIs],” Giles said. “Those are his average so far.”
Whitaker added: “Moeen is far more than an opening batsman. He has done some outstanding work in the 50-over game. He is still a bowler who has not had a whole lot of cricket.”
Moeen is likely to bat at No5, while Buttler will continue as wicketkeeper, Giles said. “If we were to rest Joe Root in one-day cricket now, what would we do when there are Ashes Tests?” Giles said. “What would we do with Eoin Morgan then?”