Stokes is understood to be managing his body, particularly a sore left knee, after sitting out nine T20Is in the space of a month, which ended with England winning the T20 World Cup in Australia. After his match-winning 52 not out in the final against Pakistan at the MCG on November 13, he traveled to Dubai for a break before meeting the Test squad on Friday.
While he has still taken part in training sessions (Sunday and Tuesday) he has yet to bowl since the final, and the decision has been made not to bring him back to full throttle, especially in the first Test. Eight days left. It is uncertain whether he will play any part in the match at all, although his unofficial nature means he may still feature if, for example, he is in the middle against the red ball at some point. likes
The captaincy opportunity for Pope represents as much a challenge as a show of confidence from Stokes, Brendon McCullum and the wider management group. The Surrey batsman was demanding and then impressive last summer, scoring 475 runs at an average of 38, with four scores of fifty or more, including a maiden century on home soil.
England hopes that the Pope will grow under the responsibility. At 24, he fits the profile of an up-and-comer who has established himself in the XI but must also grow as a leader in the dressing room. Much of Stokes and McCullum’s mantra centers around players not being afraid to take more ownership of their games and environment.
It also, by proxy, makes Pope the most obvious vice-captain under Stokes ever. The talismanic all-rounder has been reluctant to name a deputy, but it is understood that Stuart Broad was chosen last summer to take over the reins should Stokes spend some time off the field or He was ineligible for selection. With Broad opting out of a visit to Pakistan before the birth of his first child, and another viable candidate, Jonny Bairstow, also missing after his golfing accident, Pope has an opportunity to make his case for the role.
The match will be played at Tolerance Oval, part of Zayed Cricket Academy, Abu Dhabi T10 is also scheduled to start on Wednesday at the main stadium.