Ben Stokes resumes training for Test but illness worries mount for England

• Condition of Stokes’ father has improved in intensive care• Leach, Woakes and Pope unable to train before South Africa TestEngland’s preparations for the Test series continue to be nightmarish. The grimmest news came on Christmas Eve when it was announced that Ben Stokes’s father, in Johannesburg to watch the Test on Boxing Day, was in a “critical condition” in hospital. On Christmas Day the ECB issued an update that was sufficiently positive to allow Ben Stokes to join his colleagues for their final practice session before the series. His father, it said, had “shown signs of improvement. He remains in intensive care and is now in a stable condition.”This enhanced the likelihood of Stokes playing in the Test at Centurion but selection problems still remained for Joe Root. Three players, Jack Leach, Chris Woakes and the most recent victim of the flu bug, Ollie Pope, were not fit enough to train on Christmas Day, which means that this trio are highly unlikely to be available for selection. Continue reading…