Liam Plunkett believes England have plenty of back-up options
England’s talisman Stokes was passed fit for the second ODI of the three-match series against South Africa at Southampton today after an injury scare on Wednesday.
But Plunkett insisted the back-up options available to England are strong enough to get them past not only South Africa but any of the other seven teams assembling for the ICC event.
“I think we’ve got the bowlers to win the Champions Trophy,” he said. “We’ve got pace with Woody [Mark Wood], myself on some days, you’ve got Dave [David Willey] with the left-arm option, the team could change.
“Rash [Adil Rashid] is taking a lot of wickets, he can clean people up in the middle and has been huge for us.” He added: “If Ben is not playing then you’d be disappointed because he can change a game with bat, ball or in the field and it would hurt the team, but we’ve got players who can come in.”
Stokes felt soreness in his left knee after bowling two overs in the first ODI against the Proteas and while he returned to the field captain Eoin Morgan sensibly did not bowl him further.
Ben Stokes was passed for the second ODI against South Africa
Yesterday, the all-rounder showed no ill effects, getting through a practice session at the Ageas Bowl without discomfort and afterwards receiving the green light to play a full part in today’s game.
Should the all-rounder suffer any reaction in the coming days England will have a bit of thinking to do about his replacement given they could opt to replace either runs or wickets.
And while the back-up bowlers might fancy their chances of a run out, both Sam Billings and Jonny Bairstow are as likely to come in to bolster the batting.
“If the decision is made [to rest Stokes] then we back whoever comes in. If it was Jonny you’d back him to get a hundred, if it was Sam the same, if a bowler came in you’d back them to take wickets,” said Plunkett.
“You are not going to be moping around. Back in the day you did [worry] a little bit when a big powerful player like a Fred [Andrew Flintoff] or a KP [Kevin Pietersen] was out, but we will crack on believing we can beat any team.”
England squad for the ICC Champions Trophy Tue, April 25, 2017
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Express Sport runs through the England squad for the ODIs against South Africa and the ICC Champions Trophy
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Eoin Morgan (Middlesex, captain)
England will look to seal a series win today ahead of Monday’s third and final match against South Africa having beaten A B de Villiers side by 72-runs at Headingley.
After Monday all attention will turn to England’s search for that elusive first global 50-overs trophy starting against Bangladesh on Thursday.
England are on a run of seven straight victories going into today for the first time since they posted 10 wins on the spin between February and July 2012.
But Plunkett believes extended their current run all the way to the final at The Oval on June 18 is feasible. “Absolutely we can win the next seven [after the South Africa series]. There is no point turning up if you don’t think you can win.”