England Test captain Ben Stokes is still unable to bowl and is only “batting cover”, his coach at IPL side Chennai Super Kings says, in a fresh injury scare weeks before the Ashes.
Stokes has played only two matches after being bought by Chennai for $1.96 million at the start of this season in early April, before being benched with a toe injury.
The 31-year-old all-rounder was troubled by his left knee before the IPL.
On April 21, Chennai coach Stephen Fleming said that Stokes had suffered “another little setback”, without giving details.
On Sunday Fleming said that Stokes was still unable to bowl and reports suggest the player will return to Britain after Chennai’s final group game at the weekend, even though the team looks set for the next round.
“Ben’s ability to bowl overs at the moment is still a bit of a challenge, but he’s there as that batting cover,” Fleming said.
“But with Moeen (Ali) bowling well in good conditions – we go to Delhi (next), which has been turning – we think the balance of the side has been right.”
The former New Zealand captain added: “And look, we’re second on the table, so it’s not our style to chop and change just because we’ve had a loss where things didn’t go our way.”
It is the latest blow to England’s Ashes plans after fast bowler Jofra Archer pulled out of the IPL with injury last week.
There are also concerns over James Anderson.
England host Ireland for a one-off Test starting June 1 ahead of the crunch Australia series, which begins in Birmingham on June 16.