Brendon McCullum says he is confident Ben Stokes is ‘good to go’ for the opening Test against India, but will make a late call over the England captain’s fitness.
Stokes went under the knife to manage his chronic knee injury back in November, a problem which has seen the all-rounder unable to bowl since as far back as last July.
The talismanic 32-year-old was hopeful he would return to full fitness before undergoing his surgery and has been preparing for this winter’s five-match Test series at Abu Dhabi as normal with the rest of England’s squad.
But the tourists are yet to make a final decision over Stokes’ participation in the Hyderabad Test, which starts on Thursday, with McCullum keen to leave it as late as possible before settling on his XI.
At the weekend, England announced that Harry Brook had returned home due to personal reasons and Surrey’s Dan Lawrence could be in line to feature for the first time since 2022 after being called up as a replacement.
Asked for an update on Stokes’ fitness after England’s Monday training session, McCullum told the media: ‘He looks like a greyhound.
‘He’s put the work in, everyone knows his work ethic is phenomenal.
‘I’ve seen him running around and I think he’s good to go.
‘We’ll obviously make that call as late as what we need to.
‘But he’s put all the work in, and we’ll just have to wait and see.’
England have not won a series in India since Alastair Cook’s men triumphed back in 2012 and McCullum believes his side will need to be ‘really brave’ with their selection decisions if they are to stand a chance this winter.
‘What balance we go for in terms of the side we’ll work out in the coming days, but the thing we need to be is really brave with whatever we decide,’ the New Zealander added.
‘India is the land of opportunity and that’s what sits in front of us now, we’ll take the positive option.
‘Other teams might be better, but we want to be the bravest. We’ve got to do that and that’s got to be factored into selection, too.’
India were dealt a major blow on Monday as it was confirmed that Virat Kohli would miss the first two matches of the series for personal reasons.
The legendary ex-India captain – the top scorer at last year’s World Cup – is expected to return for the final three encounters, though, with a replacement set to be named in due course.
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