February 24, 2024

Ben Stokes responds to Steve Harmison's criticism of preparation for England tour

Former England seamer Harmison, a former Durham team-mate and close friend of Stokes, believes arriving in India just three days before the start of a five-match series is a recipe for disaster.

He claimed the tourists “deserved to win 5-0” without spending any longer adapting to the conditions, prompting a terse response from the England captain.

Stokes responded to a video of Harmison's comments, saying: “Good job, we're going to Abu Dhabi for a training camp before we go to India for more training before the first Test, right?”

England, who lost 3-1 in their previous Indian tour of the rotating courts, do not have any warm-up matches scheduled but are hoping to prepare for the opening match on January 25 with a week-long training in the UAE.

Harmison suggested this approach was not enough, telling talkSPORT: “If England went three days before they deserved to win 5-0, they would really do it.

“I'm an old man, that's what they'll say… Times have changed, but preparations haven't. I like this new approach, I like Ben Stokes and (head coach) Brendon McCullum. But I'm sorry, I was gone three days ago… It won't do it.” Never in an Ashes series.

“You would never go to Australia three days before the Gabba, so why would you go three days before Hyderabad? For me, it stinks, it absolutely stinks.

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Stokes recovers from knee surgery after suffering a long-term injury (Mike Egerton/PA)

Meanwhile, Stokes is racing to be fully fit for the first Test.

He underwent surgery to repair his lingering left knee injury at the end of November, and has chronicled his rehabilitation process through a series of Instagram videos.

England don't expect him to produce as a bowler, but even making him available to bat pain-free would represent an improvement of late.

“Huge progress over the week,” he wrote from the gym on Wednesday, “returning muscle tone,” and “finally being able to achieve the bend needed to spin on the bike, for something that is usually so easy has been a lot of fun.” To be able to do [it] today”