London [UK], May 29 (ANI): Pacers James Anderson and Ollie Robinson have been ruled out of England's one-off Test against Ireland at Lord's starting from Thursday, with both on course for returning to full fitness at the start of The Ashes from June 16 onwards.
Robinson limped during Sussex's County Championship match against Glamorgan last week, experiencing irritation in his Achilles tendon, while on the other hand, Anderson suffered a groin strain during Lancashire's match against Somerset earlier this month.
Both of these players have not bowled since then and there are also concerns over Ben Stokes, the all-rounder who had an injury-affected stint with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Head coach Brendon McCullum, speaking at the Lords' as his side gathered for summer's first training session, insisted his team would be ready to "play the cards you are handed". This could include the first Test outing for Mark Wood this year, who was rested during New Zealand Test series in spring and had an IPL stint with Lucknow Super Giants (LSG).
"We have got a couple of niggles, so we are just monitoring those at the moment," McCullum told Sky Sports as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
"Every team that goes into a series has got a couple of little things that you need to work through, but we are pretty confident we will have a good squad to be able to pick from. For the first Ashes Test, I think [Anderson and Robinson] should be fit. They would not be fit for this one against Ireland. We will just have to monitor it over this next sort of while, but we have got some great options right throughout the squad.""Stokesy is progressing well too. He looks really fit as well, looks in great order and has a big smile on his face. He is delighted to be back around the group and as our leader, having that sort of energy he brings is fantastic, so again we'll monitor that and see what happens.""I think he will bowl at some stage throughout the summer, yeah, no doubt. He is a world-class allrounder and if he is able to bowl, fantastic. If not, we will find a way," concluded McCullum.
McCullum said that he disagrees with people's claims about the lack of depth in English cricket.
"When I first took over this job, people said there was not much depth in English cricket and I disagree with that completely. I think there is an immense amount of depth. There is no point in being concerned. You just deal with what you have got and play the cards you are handed. I am confident we will have a good squad to pick from right throughout the summer, and we will see how we go," said McCullum.
England is heading into their new season with their game and reputation transformed under a year of the Stokes-McCullum pair, having won 10 of their last 12 Test matches, with their last match being a one-run loss against New Zealand in February, which reinforced their "no fear" style of cricket.
Although the team's first obstacle will be to defeat an Ireland squad that humiliated England for 85 runs in their most recent outing at Lord's in 2019, McCullum conceded that the Ashes are already on the team's minds.
"It has been a great year, this will be a big summer. There will be a lot of eyeballs on us, not just in the UK but also around the world, and that is what you want to be involved in. Who knows if we are going to win this summer but we are going to go into it with the right attitude, the right environment, and the right team which believes it has got a chance," said the coach.
"We are a team that knows how we want to play now, and we are not afraid to lose, which is quite a remarkable trait, and that is led by the skipper and some of the senior players as well. If we do play how we want to play, we give ourselves the best opportunity and we have got the talent to put world-class teams under pressure," added McCullum.
Regarding the strengths of the team's composition and whether England will be able to play their newly emancipated brand of cricket in the full glare of an Ashes summer against a talented Australian team, McCullum remained phlegmatic.
"Look, Australia is a very good line-up, right? They have world-class bowlers and have been a very good team for a long period of time. They will be a formidable challenge for us, but it is a challenge we are really looking forward to," he said.
"It is what you want to play sport for, right? You want to be playing against the best, in the biggest series and on the biggest stage, and there is no greater opportunity than what lies in front of us in the next six to eight weeks.""From our point of view, we do not go into it prescribed with our method, it is about trying to ensure we are nice and free of mind, and being able to live in the present and deal with what comes our way. If it is a high-scoring rate, great. If it is not, that is great too. We will just see what happens," concluded McCullum.
Squad against Ireland: Ben Stokes (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood. (ANI)