- Hip issue could keep Durham star out of New Zealand clash
- Buttler not prepared to take risks early in tournament
- Brook on standby to replace Stokes against Kiwis
Buttler confirms Stokes has a niggle, Brook ready to come in
Captain Jos Buttler played down the new issue on Wednesday but England are unlikely to take a risk on Stokes at the start of a seven-week tournament.
England’s Test captain, 32, came out of retirement for the defence of their 50-over world title despite his long-running knee injury .
“It’s not the time to take big risks on someone,” said Buttler.
“Nearer the end, maybe you do take more of a risk with people’s injuries but it’s going to be a long tournament.”
If Stokes is not fit, batter Harry Brook, who was only called up as a late change for Jason Roy, is the obvious replacement.
England trained at the cavernous 130,000-seater Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Wednesday evening – the venue of the tournament curtain-raiser a day later.
Stokes did not take part, emerging for 30 minutes to watch his team-mates go through warm-ups and fielding drills.
Brook had a long net session, with Stokes instead spending time in the gym.
Stokes has not played since hitting an England-record 182 in the third one-day international against New Zealand on 13 September, having sat out Monday’s warm-up game against Bangladesh.
“He’s got a slight niggle with his hip,” said Buttler.
“We’ll make the right call. If he’s not fit to play, he’s not fit to play. If he is, we can make that decision.”
Stokes’ knee troubles already mean he is in India purely as a batter, rather than playing his full role as an all-rounder.
The tournament begins with a 10-team round-robin stage, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals, giving England time to be cautious with Stokes.
Stokes’ absence would obviously come as a blow to England, because of his influence as well as his batting. However, Brook is a very capable replacement. Bettors need to analyse the impact of Stokes being missing against New Zealand and, possibly in some of the other early matches as England will no doubt believe they can make the semi-finals with little or no contribution from Stokes and then use him at the business end of the tournament.