Forget Virat Kohli and Harry Brook’s absences for personal reasons – the truly sensational news at the start of this India tour is about Ben Stokes

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Some pretty big news has broken since England (finally) touched down in India for their five-Test series. It’s not Virat Kohli missing the first two games for personal reasons. It’s not Harry Brook missing (probably, maybe) the whole series, also for personal reasons. It’s to do with Ben Stokes.

We hope everything’s all right with Kohli and Brook – which is a pretty dumb thing to say, because obviously it’s not. It’s never nice to see players miss matches for personal reasons.

> It’s time to marvel at the vocal stylings of Virat Kohli (and also Rishabh Pant) in this amazing/awful pimple cream ad

If anything, we’d like to see more players sit games out for professional reasons. It would be quite refreshing to hear a player say, “I just don’t fancy it. I think I’d get a hammering and I’m not sure my reputation would recover,” or, “I’m pretty confident I’d get found out against spin, so I’m basically just going to hide. I’ll probably reemerge when I can sniff a flat pitch again.”

Kohli and Brook are also two of the most interesting batters in the world, so they’re really big losses. There is however far bigger news than the fact neither will be playing in the first Test on Thursday.

We are referring, of course, to Ben Stokes supposedly looking like a greyhound.

Just as a little aide memoire, that’s Ben Stokes at the top of the page. Scroll back up and have another look, just to refresh your memory.

And for those of you who don’t know what one looks like… this…

… is a greyhound.

We were going to do a little side-by-side image so that you could more easily compare and contrast, but after first looking at first Ben Stokes and then the greyhound, we concluded this wasn’t really a ‘spot the difference’ scenario.

Despite this, speaking about England’s Test captain yesterday, Brendon McCullum claimed – and this is a direct quote – “He looks like a greyhound.”

The comment appeared to be some sort of comment on Stokes’ fitness after knee surgery. Stokes is, apparently, “running around” and greyhounds can also run, so that appears to be the big similarity.

Someone should tell McCullum that despite their reputation, greyhounds actually do very little running because they get tired quite quickly and have to go and have a long lie down.

There are other similarities though. Like Stokes, greyhounds cannot bowl fast-medium. Were one to be named England captain for a five-Test tour of India, it too would have to lean heavily on Joe Root’s part-time off-spin to make up for its own inability to contribute with the ball.

Some other similarities between Ben Stokes and greyhounds

  • Lack an undercoat and are thus less likely to trigger dog allergies in humans
  • Big heart (Literally for greyhounds. Metaphorically for Stokes (but possibly also literally – who knows?))
  • Bigger than a lot of dogs – over 75cm tall at the withers
  • Not mentioned in several of Shakespeare’s plays
  • Did not die at the Battle of the Little Bighorn

> From the 2019 Ashes to two World Cup finals – which of Ben Stokes’ big three high pressure run-chase innings was the most ridiculous?

There’s a big Test tour on the way. It’s a great time to start getting King Cricket articles emailed to you.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. I don’t want to distract anyone from the importance of this article, but it needs to be marked that today (22 January) is exactly 30 years since the immortal line was first uttered.

    I can’t spake

    Indeed. We all can’t spake.

    1. Bert doesn’t say too much on here these days, but what he does say, he makes count. That’s just typical of what he is!!

      1. Cam-Bell should’ve sat that one out for personal reasons. His reputation has never recovered.

        The dickhead.

      1. …an anniversary that is simultaneously absolutely momentous and completely irrelevant.

        Aren’t they all like this?

  2. What’s the Indian series telly situation? Is it on something called TNT Sports, formerly BT Sport? Any terrestrial highlights? Radio – TalkSport rather than TMS? Am I asking too many questions?

    1. You’re answering most of them.

      Yes, TNT Sports for live coverage. We thought you could get the matches cheaper via Discovery+ but looks like it’s actually just that Discovery+ are offering a not-cheap subscription to TNT Sports.

      Don’t think there are going to be terrestrial highlights beyond the five-minute jobbos – although may get you 10-15 minute packages which is still not much, but better than a boot in the nutsack.

      Radio is TalkSport, yes.

      1. If memory serves, by end of the series a boot in the nutsack might not seem such an awful prospect.

  3. I actually like how, instead of paying lip service with the ENG vs BCCI President’s Wife’s Son’s mate’s invitational U19 XVII they’ve dispensed with the meaningless warm-up entirely and will go into this colder than ice. We’re going to need a fair few excuses before the series is out so this is a good start.

  4. I very much enjoyed the greyhound quote and your dissection thereof, KC.

    My mum had one of her hips replaced in the mid 1970s. In her dotage, mum would oft repeat the story that her surgeon referred to her as “like a greyhound”. I think this statement was designed to let the listener know that she had recovered quickly and/or that mum had relatively long legs.

    My mum did not look like a greyhound. Neither could my mum have scored runs with a stick of rhubarb.

    1. The quality and irreverence of coverage on offer here rarely dips, such that I tend to assume the appreciation is taken as read but yes, this was a particularly entertaining read (the final paragraph in particular). I include the comments in that. Fine work, all.

  5. The fact that Shoaib Bashir hasn’t been a given a visa is the big pre match news surely? We don’t know what’s been said privately but the fact that England are going ahead with the series tells you a lot about the balance of power in cricket these days.

    Echoes of D’Oliveira.

    1. Well he has been given one. They just took ages over it to make a point about various things, none of which really has much or anything to do with poor Bashir in practice.

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