England captain Ben Stokes said he is excited about the prospect of Harry Brooke’s Test debut as the Yorkshire batsman will replace the injured Jonny Bairstow in the series finale against South Africa. Brooke is the only change in the England XI to level the three-match series with a resounding victory in the second Test at Old Trafford after Bairstow was ruled out with a strange foot injury while playing golf. Bairstow has been in fine form this year, scoring 1,061 runs in 10 Tests including six centuries.
“Harry is someone who has been talked about a lot going forward to represent England,” Stokes said on the eve of the deciding Test at The Oval on Wednesday.
“It’s amazing how sometimes people’s opportunities are presented to him… He deserved his opportunity to be on the team in the beginning and he deserved his opportunity this week.”
The skipper said he felt “devastated” for Bairstow, who will also miss the T20 World Cup starting in Australia next month.
“That’s been a big reason why we’ve had such a successful summer,” he said. “It was a strange accident.”
But all-rounder Stokes said: “The way our middle order is playing this summer, I think Harry is approaching, the way he goes about his game with the bat in his hand, he’s quite like – Like replacement.
“He always tries to take the bowling forward, take positive options. Johnny’s absence is definitely devastating, but I am very excited that we will find a replacement with Johnny’s skills.”
The 23-year-old has played four Twenty20 Internationals for England.
South Africa won the first Test at Lord’s by an innings and 12 runs, only for England to win by an innings and 85 runs and another match in Manchester wrapped up within three days.
“We know that South Africa are always going to be in the game and stay in the moment,” Stokes said.
“We left the Lord’s loss behind and we focused on Manchester, so I know Dean (Elgar, Proteas captain) and the South African team will be doing the same thing here.
“I think it’s great for the series that it goes down to the wire. I know South Africa are going to keep firing, but that’s how we answer the questions they ask us. “
Jack Crowley, Alex Lees, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brooke, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Fox (wk), Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson
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