Stuart Broad says England’s attack is ready to step up in the Ashes if Ben Stokes’ knee injury prevents him from playing a full role as a bowler.
Although Captain Stokes says he gave himself “the best possible chance” of being fully fit, it is unlikely that he will bowl in the ongoing Test against Ireland.
Broad took 5-51 as Ireland were bowled out for 172 The first day in Lourdes.
“It changes the dynamic,” said Broad. “The spells come faster. You have to step forward and make more overs.”
Broad, 36, marked the first part of his 17-year international career, when an attack on three front-runners and a spin by Graeme Swann propelled England to three successive Ashes victories and topped the world Test rankings.
“I love it either way,” he said. “I love bowling and that’s what I’m there for – you play more with just three tailers.”
All-rounder Stokes did not bowl in England’s final Test, A.J Defeat New Zealand In Wellington in February.
Although he then played only two matches for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, Stokes said before the Ireland Test that his knee was “in a much better place”.
The first Ashes test against Australia took place on 16 June at Edgbaston.
“He’s going to build up his haul to Edgbaston,” said Broad. “He’s not someone who needs a lot of bowling. He can just pick up the ball and go.”
In the absence of James Anderson and Ollie Robinson, Broad led the England attack and claimed his first five-wicket haul at Lord’s for 10 years.
The hosts then moved to 152-1 at the close, with a lead of just 20 runs.
Although Broad is realistically in contention with Robinson and Mark Wood joining Anderson in attack for the first Test against Australia at Edgbaston on June 16, he says an array of fast bowlers will be needed in the Ashes series.
“Not that there was any talk of the Ashes within our group at all, but we all know we’re going to need an armory of bowlers,” said Broad, England’s second-highest-ever wicket-taker.
“I love Ashes cricket, but I can honestly tell you whether I’m playing first, second or fifth, my mentality is the same: try to change the momentum and look for the performance that wins the Test match.”
Analysis – “Filter the key if Stokes does not fit”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan in a special Test match
If Ben Stokes wasn’t able to run in that Test, and the fact that he didn’t run for an extended period of time, they’re obviously saving him for the Ashes.
I don’t think it will get much tossed in the ashes. I think he’ll play two or three spells, knowing Ben will be over 15 spells. That’s pretty much what he does.
But still, spinner Jack Leach becomes key to England’s attack. It will have to end. Australia would be thinking ‘let’s hit Jack Leach out of attack’, so Stokes would either have to go his own or bring back a front line seamer for more overs.
We are not silly. The first morning against Ireland was perfect for a fourth seamer to put up some overs, and Stokes wasn’t getting around. If he can get to a place in The Ashes where he can bowl a bit, that could change the course of the series.