Thu, 05 Oct 2023

London [UK], June 4 (ANI): England Test captain Ben Stokes dismissed fitness worries ahead of The Ashes against Australia, insisting his long-standing knee injury was "nothing to worry about."The 31-year-old looked in discomfort as he collected a catch on day three of the Lord's Test against Ireland, a game England won by 10 wickets with more than a day to spare for their 11th triumph in 13 games.

The English skipper was in visible discomfort after taking the catch of Curtis Campher at short fine leg, though he hobbled around for the rest of the innings while staying on the ground. Stokes has been dealing with knee issues, most recently during the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Stokes did not bowl in the match, but he did bowl some deliveries in the warm-up before Saturday's play, which might be a lift for England with the first Test against Australia less than two weeks away.

Stokes was eager to dismiss any concerns over the injury scare in the Ireland game.

"I landed quite awkwardly. My weight went on the inside of my knee, I hyper-extended it. It was one of those things, but I am 32 tomorrow so that probably explains it. I bowled this morning, the first time I have bowled since being back from [the IPL] and I was really happy with the way it was. Nothing to worry about," Skysports quoted Stokes as saying.

Stokes' effect with the ball was restricted during the drawn Test series in New Zealand in February, with the skipper bowling just nine overs in two games.

Coming to the one-off Test match against Ireland, pacer Josh Tongue took a five-wicket haul on his Test debut as the hosts England clinched an easy win against a spirited Ireland side on Day 3 of the one-off Test match at Lord's on Saturday.

After Ollie Pope (205 in 208 balls) and Ben Duckett (182 in 178 balls) had fired England to a massive total of 524/4 declared on Day 2. It took quite an effort from Ireland to avoid an innings defeat. Ireland was bundled out for 172 in the first innings, with efforts coming from James McCollum (36), Paul Stirling (30) and Curtis Campher (33). Stuart Broad had taken a five-wicket haul and ended with figures of 5/51. After England crossed 500 in the second innings, they gained a lead of 352 runs.

In Ireland's second innings, when they needed to overcome this gigantic lead, Tongue took four of the top five batters out to reduce the visitors to 126/4. Harry Tector put up a fight with a half-century, a knock of 51 in 98 balls, but the real aggression came from lower down the order.

Mark Adair and Andy McBrine smothered the England attack for more than a session, putting on the highest partnership by Ireland in Test cricket to launch a late fightback.

The duo took Ireland from 162/6 to 325 before Adair fell 12 runs short of a century. Matthew Potts broke the threatening partnership to end Adair's stirring 76-ball 88 before Tongue completed his five-wicket haul with the wicket of Fionn Hand.

McBrine remained unbeaten on 86 as Ireland finished on 362/9 with opener James McCollom, who was out retired hurt, unable to bat.

Zak Crawley (12) went on to smash three fours in four balls to take England to an easy win as they began their summer on a positive note despite the injury cloud around the quicks that had hit them right before the Test match.

England has less than two weeks before the first Ashes Test of the next ICC World Test Championship cycle in Birmingham. They also named a strong 16-member squad for the first two Tests of the series earlier in the day. (ANI)

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