Ben Stokes did not bowl for England on day four of Sydney Test due to a side strain, while Jos Buttler (finger) and Jonny Bairstow (thumb) have undergone X-rays; all three will bat if needed on final day at SCG but participation in Hobart Test is in doubt
Last Updated: 08/01/22 9:48am
England do not yet know whether Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow or Jos Buttler will be fit for the fifth and final Ashes Test in Hobart.
Stokes (left side) is awaiting results of a scan and did not bowl on day four of the fourth Test in Sydney, while Buttler (finger) and (Bairstow (thumb) have undergone X-rays.
All three will bat for England if required on the final day at the SCG as the tourists look to earn a draw and avoid slipping 4-0 down in the series – but their participation beyond that remains unclear.
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Substitute fielder Ollie Pope kept wicket for England in Australia’s second innings with both Buttler and Bairstow off the field due to their injuries, while Kent wicketkeeper Sam Billings has been drafted into the squad ahead of the fixture in Hobart from January 14.
England assistant coach Thorpe – who is leading the squad in Sydney while Chris Silverwood completes his Covid-19 isolation – said of Stokes, Buttler and Bairstow: “We’ve obviously got some blows
“It’s possible [they will miss the final Test] but we will be assessing all of that at the end of the game.
“Obviously, Sam has been called into the group and that’s obviously a good indicator of some of the concerns we have with the injuries.
“But I am sure the lads will take whatever they need to take to get themselves in a position where they are capable of performing on the final day. They will all bat and they will all do their very best, I know that.
“At the end of the game we have to assess who is potentially going to be available. With Stokes, his injury is not a great one being an all-rounder.”
Billings is expected to make his Test debut in Hobart if Buttler misses out but Pope did his prospects no harm with four catches on day four in Sydney.
Thorpe added: “I thought Ollie did fantastically well, it’s a bit like a goalkeeper… if you don’t really notice them that means that they’ve done very well.
“It took me a while to realise it was him back out there. That gives us gives us options.”
Sky Sports Cricket’s Rob Key added: “I think Billings will come in. He has been in unbelievable form in the Big Bash, although that is white-ball cricket.
“Buttler looks like he is struggling. Bairstow might be alright but it seems unlikely that he will keep with a busted thumb.”