Ollie Pope should make way if Ben Stokes is selected for Trent Bridge Test

David Cooper - Writer 17:20 15/08/2018
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Ben Stokes seems likely to make an immediate return for England in the third Test against India after being found not guilty of affray.

The influential all-rounder was absent from the innings-and-159-run victory at Lord’s because of his much-publicised trial at Bristol Crown Court, which concluded on Tuesday.

Stokes’ acquittal was swiftly followed by an England recall and Press Association reports he looks likely to be picked at Trent Bridge.

Here we look at the players who can be asked to make way for Stokes.

OLLIE POPE

Ollie Pope.

Ollie Pope.

In order to accommodate their abundance of all-rounders, England may decide to drop a batsman and Pope is the most vulnerable because of his inexperience. That would mean Jonny Bairstow moves up to four and Stokes slots in at five. This looks like seems like the best solution even though dropping Pope after one Test innings would be unfair on the 20-year-old.

That might mean a more pressure on Bairstow as Jos Buttler isn’t in the best on form. However, given the Indian bowling is lacking in confidence, England can look to manage without Pope.

ADIL RASHID

The leg-spinner was a virtual bystander at the ‘Home of Cricket’, where he did not bat, bowl or take a catch in the field. His return to red-ball cricket has been a relatively low-key affair and it would not be a complete shock if England decided they did not need a spinner at a ground that even Graeme Swann lamented as a graveyard for tweakers. His omission would mean fielding five seamers, though, which could be a case of sameness to the attack .

SAM CURRAN

Sam Curran.

Sam Curran.

Stokes’s replacement Chris Woakes came into the team and made a significant impact, taking the key wicket of India captain Virat Kohli in the first innings before a timely maiden international century sent England firmly on course to complete a comprehensive win that put them 2-0 up in the series. Dropping Woakes after such a display would be a brave call.

Left-handed bowling all-rounder Curran has shown an appetite for the heat of battle this summer rarely seen in 20-year-old rookies. A four-wicket haul and a combative half-century in just his second Test swung the series opener in England’s favour at Edgbaston and bagged him a man-of-the-match award. But at this stage in his career, Curran is an inferior first-change bowler to Woakes so it could be that England take a pragmatic view and leave out the Surrey youngster.

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