England's Stokes doubtful for final test vs West Indies
GROS ISLET, St Lucia (AP) — England, bidding to avoid a 3-0 clean sweep against West Indies, has fitness doubts over all-rounder Ben Stokes for the third and final test that starts on Saturday.
Opening batsman Keaton Jennings has been recalled after being dropped for the second test, while wicketkeeper Ben Foakes is dropped.
Captain Joe Root suggested Stokes' bruised right heel was a result of the heavy burden he carried with the ball during England's defeats in Barbados and Antigua, bowling more than 77 overs in baking conditions, but he did not completely dismiss reports the injury was sustained while running on the beach during a fitness session.
"Whether it was before that or during that I'm not really sure," Root said on Friday. "It's down to a huge amount of workload over the first two tests. He woke up sore with his heel."
Stokes could feature as a specialist batsman if he cannot play a full part with his bowling.
"As we've seen in the recent past, when he's not been around it can make a huge difference," Root said. "Of course we want Ben fit and firing and ready to go as many times as possible, but it's so important he is able to do his job properly."
Sam Curran will keep his place if England decides not to risk Stokes. Paceman Mark Wood is set to return to the attack, while Jonny Bairstow will reclaim the wicketkeeping gloves from Foakes.
West Indies is hoping fast bowler Shannon Gabriel will again take a liking to the St Lucia venue.
Gabriel picked up 13 Sri Lankan wickets on his last visit to the Darren Sammy Stadium, including career-best figures of eight for 62.
"This ground has been good to me. I have some good memories here," he said. "I have some plans but your plan and God's plan might be two different plans, so let's see how it goes."
Gabriel has been the fastest bowler in the series, touching 94mph (151kph).
"As a group we've been bowling well together, and applying pressure, and once you apply pressure, batsmen make mistakes," he said. "My role is no secret, it's to run and bowl as fast as possible."
Kraigg Brathwaite will captain West Indies in the absence of Jason Holder, who is suspended following the team's slow over-rate in the second test.
West Indies: Brathwaite, Campbell, Hope, Darren Bravo, Hetmyer, Chase, Dowrich, Roach, Joseph, Gabriel, Thomas, Paul.
England: Burns, Jennings, Denly, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, Moeen Ali, Curran, Broad, Anderson, Wood.