ECB confirms all team and staff tested negative ahead of Thursday’s first ODI against Pakistan, live on Sky Sports Cricket at 12.30pm; Stokes says his Durham teammate Brydon Carse has the “X factor that every team wishes they had.”
Substitute skipper Ben Stokes says he has ‘huge boots to fill’ given how Eoin Morgan has led the team in recent years
Ben Stokes has urged England’s makeshift one-day team to make the most of an unexpected opportunity and play with “a smile on their face”.
All-rounder Stokes will be the captain of a hastily assembled team in the Royal London Series against Pakistan after the original group of players and staff were forced into isolation by a Covid-19 outbreak just 48 hours before Thursday’s opening match. in Cardiff.
He was originally left out of the team to focus on his recovery from a finger operation and will now lead a group that features nine unlimited players and a handful of unplanned retirements, a group he expects to be “very” competitive.
“The only thing I said to myself to make sure I tell the team is that although it has been a very rapid turn of events, in terms of having to pick a new team, no matter what name is on the back of the Con la England jersey we’re walking as the number one team, “said Stokes.
“It is exciting to say what you are a part of, whether you are an experienced player, a young player or someone who has joined the group for the first time.
“Situations like these are so rare. Here is your chance to represent your country and let’s all do it with a big smile on our faces and enjoy it as much as we can as a group.”
He added: “One of the reasons for County Cricket is to put your name in the hat for an England call-up, although you usually won’t pick 16 new players in a couple of days!
“The guys who have been elected have raised their hands in county cricket and they deserve to be in this situation, albeit in dire circumstances. But they all deserve their place on the team.”
England stated over the weekend that they were willing not to pressure Stokes into returning to international service too quickly and were happy to allow him to return to his best condition with Durham. But the turn of events on Tuesday means the return has had to accelerate.
He said: “It was the last call I was expecting, late at night. Spoons (head coach Chris Silverwood) asked me directly ‘Can you come and do it?’
“After the call happened, my wife sent me a screenshot of an article that said ‘England is not going to rush Ben Stokes.’ It is one of these situations that is an example of ‘if you don’t laugh, you will cry’.
“But it was like when I came back to Durham a little earlier, my job needed me to do something, so I had to stand up and do that. It’s the same with this, it’s earlier than planned from a medical and fitness point of view. See, but when a job comes in and you call him, you have to stand up and be available. “
The list of potential rookies includes Stokes’ Durham teammate Brydon Carse, a player Stokes believes has a great future.
“I’ve known him since he was in Durham and also from the academy days; he has improved a lot in the last two years. Going with the Lions made his game progress even more.
“I’ve been back for four or five weeks in Durham and he’s a really awesome cricketer; he’s obviously known for his bowling, but he’s also a really good hitter. Add rhythm to the attack, it’s that X factor that every team wishes they had. .
“I see him playing a role very similar to what Liam Plunkett played for us for many years.”
Watch the first ODI between England and Pakistan live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.30pm on Thursday.