England opt for familiarity in face of latest Stokes injury

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It was a brief return to action for Ben Stokes, who managed to face 51 balls and bowl 20.2 overs before suffering his latest injury setback in the second Test against Pakistan.

After missing the latter-part of Sri Lanka’s tour to these shores with a knee problem, the all-rounder is now set for another layoff after picking up a calf strain in his sixth over of Pakistan’s second innings at Old Trafford.

The Durham man’s absence won’t be filled by a new face when the series rolls on to Edgbaston though, with England opting not to replace Stokes in the squad.

Instead they’ve stuck with the other 13 men that filled out the roster for Manchester, meaning one of Steven Finn, Adil Rashid or Jake Ball will come into the XI.

Chris Woakes’ emergence as an all-rounder means the side won’t be dented too much by Stokes’ knock.

The in-form 27-year-old will likely shuffle up the batting order, as will Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali, to cover the gap. He is also seven victims clear at the top of the wicket-taking statistics for the series.

The decision that now faces Alastair Cook and Trevor Bayliss is whether they want to draft in a seamer or spinner as the additional bowler.

Both Finn and Ball played in the first-Test defeat at Lord’s, while Rashid was named in a bumper 14-man squad for Old Trafford following that loss.

Rumours that the leg-spinner would replace Ali in the Old Trafford lineup were rife right up until the toss in Manchester, but proved fruitless as England kept the faith.

It can be argued either way whether that trust was repaid, as Ali returned two runs with the bat and match figures of 5-131 with the ball.

We make the hosts favourite to win the third Test in spite of the selection issues, at a price of 4/6 compared to 7/2 about Misbah-ul-Haq’s tourists.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.