Wellington, March 1 (IANS) England coach Brendon McCullum is confident that Test skipper Ben Stokes’ involvement in the IPL 2023 for Chennai Super Kings will not jeopardise his participation in the Ashes this summer as has put faith in the franchise to keep the star all-rounder fit for the series against England.
Stokes struggled with his left knee during England’s one-run defeat by New Zealand in the second Test. He was only able to bowl two overs and then struggled physically while batting on the final day.
The 31-year-old scored 33 from 116 balls as England fell agonisingly short of their target of 258 in one of the greatest finishes in Test history.
Speaking at the end of the second Test, Stokes admitted to finding it “very frustrating” that he could not play a full part, particularly as the fourth seamer, but quashed the idea he would turn his back on the IPL.
Last week, he had floated the possibility of leaving the IPL 2023 early, which runs from March 31 to May 28, to ensure he is ready for the first Test of the summer against Ireland at Lord’s on June 1, though only if he feels he needs a bigger lead-in.
Meanwhile, Test coach McCullum has no doubts that Stokes will be right for the summer, not just because he has full faith in the CSK set-up, which he was a part of for two seasons, but also being aware of how much a series against Australia means to England captain.
“I don’t think he’s jeopardising it. The Chennai set-up is excellent in looking after their players and they’ve a very good medical team and he will be well looked after. The skipper has a strong mind and he knows how to get right for the big moments. His life is that, right? So I don’t have any concerns,” McCullum was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“In fact, I look forward to watching him play in it and see, without captaincy as well, the opportunity to play cricket without worrying about everybody else, knowing when he comes back into the fold and leads us into the Ashes campaign he’ll have the bit between his teeth and I think we’ll be alright.
He sees the big picture in everything, so I’ve no concerns that the skipper will be totally looked after. And I also believe that the Ashes is the script that the skipper is waiting to write, so he’ll be sweet,” he added.
The presence of his good friend Stephen Fleming in the CSK dugout is also keeping McCullum’s mind at ease. Fleming, who was McCullum’s first international captain, has been in charge of the franchise since 2009 and has been in New Zealand throughout this series. He’s been in constant communication with Stokes regarding his fitness and other plans.
“I’ve got a tee-time with him [Fleming]… So I’ll be talking to him and making sure he looks after the skipper, but I know that Chennai set-up actually. I played in that franchise and they’re very good. They’ve got a good team and an outstanding leader in Flem,” McCullum said.