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England assistant coach Paul Farbrace has revealed that all-rounder Ben Stokes is likely to be fit for the first Test against New Zealand on March 22.
Stokes was ruled out of England’s first warm-up match against a New Zealand XI due to a back injury.
Even though all-rounder Chris Woakes and pace bowler Craig Overton didn’t feature in the match as well, Farbrace is optimistic that the trio will be healthy for the first Test.
“We are hoping all [three] of them will be fit to play some part in the next two-day game which starts in two days’ time,” Farbrace told Sky Sports. “We are pretty confident all should be OK. Overton and Woakes have had a bowl today.
“Stokes should be OK. Even if he plays as a batter, there is plenty of time next week for him to get overs ahead of the Test match in Auckland.
“People know they are playing for places. We have one or two injuries and we’ve had not the most fantastic series in Australia, so people do know there are places up for grabs and that’s really important.”
With the first Test in Auckland being a day-night affair, Farbrace conceded that the national team are still getting used to playing under the floodlights, even though they played a day-night Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston in August last year and one against Australia in Adelaide during the recent Ashes series.
“Each of the games we have played with the pink ball we have played under very different conditions,” he said. “We expected the ball to swing a little bit here under lights and it will be interesting to see what happens in Auckland next week. It is a constant case of finding out with the pink ball.”
The 50-year-old also made it clear that he is committed to England, despite having spoken to Bangladesh about potentially becoming their new head coach.
“There have been conversations and you are always looking to what you are going to do [next],” he said. “For the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying what I am doing here.”