England v Ireland: Stuart Broad says bowlers ready if Ben Stokes is not fit to bowl in the Ashes

Stuart Broad says England’s attack is ready to step up in the Ashes if Ben Stokes’ knee injury stops him from playing a full part as a bowler.

Though captain Stokes says he has given himself “the best possible chance” to be fully fit, he is unlikely to bowl in the ongoing Test against Ireland.

Broad took 5-51 as Ireland were bowled out for 172 on one day at Lord’s.

“It does change the dynamic,” said Broad. “Spells come around quicker. You have to front up and bowl more overs.”

Broad, 36, pointed to the first part of his 17-year international career, when an attack based on three frontline seamers and the spin of Graeme Swann took England to three successful Ashes wins and the top of the world Test rankings.

“I like it either way,” he said. “I love bowling and that’s what I’m there for – you bowl more with only three seamers.”

All-rounder Stokes did not bowl in England’s last Test, a defeat by New Zealand in Wellington in February.

Though he subsequently played only two games for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, Stokes said before the Ireland Test his knee is “in a much better place”.

The first Ashes Test against Australia is on 16 June at Edgbaston.

“He’ll build his overs up leading into Edgbaston,” said Broad. “He’s not someone who needs a lot of bowling. He can just pick the ball up 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 by the close, just 20 runs behind.

Though Broad is realistically competing with Robinson and Mark Wood to join Anderson in the attack for the first Test against Australia at Edgbaston on 16 June, he says a squad of fast bowlers will be needed in the Ashes series.

“Not that there’s been any talk about the Ashes within our group at all, but we all know we’re going to need an armoury of bowlers,” said Broad, England’s second highest wicket-taker of all-time.

“I love Ashes cricket, but I can honestly say to you whether I play the first, the second or the fifth my mind is the same: try to change the momentum and look to put in the performance that wins the Test match.”

Analysis – ‘Leach the key if Stokes is not fit’

Former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special

If Ben Stokes isn’t going to be able to bowl in this Test, and the fact he hasn’t bowled for such a long period of time, they are clearly saving him for the Ashes.

I don’t think he’ll bowl a great deal in the Ashes. I think he’ll bowl two or three spells, and knowing Ben it will be 15-over spells. That is pretty much what he does.

But with that, spinner Jack Leach becomes key to England’s attack. He’ll have to hold an end. Australia will be thinking ‘let’s hit Jack Leach out of the attack’, so Stokes has to either go to himself or bring back a frontline seamer for more overs.

We’re not silly. The first morning against Ireland was perfect for a fourth seamer to bowl a few overs and Stokes didn’t bowl. If he can get to a place in the Ashes where he can bowl a little bit, that could change the course of the series.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo