'I've never seen something like that before', says Ben Stokes on Ranchi pitch

February 22, 2024
England captain Ben Stokes believes that the pitch being prepared for the fourth Test against India,

Ranchi, Feb 22 (IANS) England captain Ben Stokes believes that the pitch being prepared for the fourth Test against India, starting from February 23 at the JSCA International Stadium, is something which he hasn’t been before and has no idea over how it will play throughout the match.

The pitch for the Ranchi Test has attracted attention due to its dark brown, super dry and cracked nature. Vice-captain Ollie Pope had said on Wednesday that the pitch has already got platey cracks, indicating that turn and variable bounce will come into play from the word go.

“It looked interesting, didn’t it? I don’t know, I’ve never seen something like that before so I have got no idea. I don’t know what could happen. If you looked down one side of opposite ends it just looked different to what I am used to seeing, especially out in India. It looked green and grassy up in the changing-rooms, but then you go out there, it looked different. Very dark and crumbly and quite a few cracks in it,” said Stokes to reporters.

Though a spin-friendly pitch will bring England’s spinners Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir and Rehan Ahmed heavily into the equation at Ranchi, where they aim to square the five-game series against India, there has been talk of Ollie Robinson replacing Mark Wood in the playing eleven.

Robinson’s last Test match for England was the third Ashes game at Headingley last year, where he bowled just 11.2 overs in the first innings before a back spasm forced him on the sidelines for the rest of the series. Stokes feels Robinson has put in the hard yards to get a look into the Ranchi Test, which will also be his first time of playing in India.

“He has worked incredibly hard while he has been out here. It is tough for someone like Ollie, who’s played such a big part in the game over the last two years, where he has not taken part in a game and the stuff he has done away from the game itself has been very good.”

“I told him he has been a great example of doing the right things and waiting your turn if it comes. Not playing the first three Tests can be tough and disappointing. But the way he has cracked on and got his fitness stuff in and not let disappointment get in the way of a potential chance that might come in this series.”

“He’s got unbelievable skills to be a successful bowler anywhere in the world. What we’ve seen in England is he’s very skilful, but we’ve seen more than that in Pakistan. It’s similar but different here, but the skill he possesses, he can find any movement, and his release point is always going to be dangerous.”

“The skill will always be there. But since that chat (in 2022, where he was lambasted for his fitness levels), he’s worked on everything I thought that would get the best out of him, but also the team. Having Ollie Robinson able to bowl three spells and back it up the next day is going to do any team the world of good.”

Asked about his possibility of bowling at Ranchi, Stokes remained non-committal. “Before I had surgery I was told 12 to 13 weeks before I could start bowling. I am two weeks ahead of that and that’s the longest I’ve bowled but let’s see how everything is. If I feel I’m capable of bowling I’ll bowl.”

“My knee itself was absolutely fine bowling (on Wednesday). It was just good to push past that 20-minute barrier, which is what I’ve been working around at the moment. It might be a bit stiff but we’ll wait and see.”



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