Concerned England skipper Alastair Cook admits the prospect of Ben Stokes taking the field against Pakistan in next week’s pivotal third Test at Edgbaston looks bleak after the all-rounder sustained a calf injury.
The potential loss of Stokes was the sole blot on an otherwise barnstorming fourth day at Old Trafford as England put the tourists to the sword, winning by a mammoth 330 runs to level the series at 1-1 with two Tests to play.
England wasted little time in advancing their overnight score to 173-1 before declaring, while three wickets apiece for seamer James Anderson and all-rounders Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali saw Pakistan routed for 234 in their second innings.
Stokes had only just returned to the England side following knee surgery in May but is set to have an MRI scan today to determine the extent of the problem, although Cook appears downbeat.
“Ben is a tough nut and a true athlete, a player who plays on the edge, never taking a backward step and one who drags people with him. He is a big miss,” said Cook.
“Ben will have an MRI scan and hopefully the scan will be a good one but he said he felt something go and it would be a big risk to play him at Edgbaston.”
Injury to Stokes could re-open the door to Steven Finn or Jake Ball, who were both dropped after the first Test at Lord’s, or fellow seamer Mark Wood after he impressed for the England Lions having undergone ankle surgery in April.
Cook, meanwhile, was much maligned for his decision not to enforce the follow-on on Sunday but notched the fastest half-century of his Test career to finish unbeaten on 76, while Joe Root hit 71 to go with his first innings double ton.
That set the visitors a notional world-record 565 to win which proved a forlorn hope as Anderson, on his home ground, ripped into Pakistan’s top order. Opener Mohammad Hafeez provided the greatest resistance and top scored with 42 before falling to Moeen.
England’s margin of victory represented their fifth biggest Test win in terms of runs and was a far cry from the ignominy of their 75-run defeat in the opening clash of the series at Lord’s.
“We came into this game under real pressure but the guys showed they had learnt from the experience at Lord’s,” added Cook. “This was all about us showing that we can still play and to put most of the things right that were wrong at Lord’s. It was a pretty good effort.”