Those fears were proven to be well founded this spring, as Ben Stokes broke his finger in an IPL game, an injury that is expected to keep him out of action for at least the first half of the summer.
This will probably mean that England’s premier all-rounder will miss the challenging test series planned to take place against New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Something that will bring both touring sides into the reckoning with bookmakers everywhere.
Hopefully, Stokes will be back in time to face Pakistan in July and India in August, when the betting really hots up.
Replacing a world class player like Ben Stokes is almost impossible, but at least England have some viable options at their disposal
For those betting punters and bookmakers who like to play things safe, there is little doubt among cricket experts and tipsters that Chris Woakes will play a prominent part in both the test side and the ODI outfit this summer. His consistency with the ball and his match winning potential with the bat should go some way to filling the void left by Stokes. And for more insight into how bookies see Woakes slotting into this summer’s squad we'd suggest reading OLBG's advice when looking for the best bookies for your cricket betting.
If Woakes can get to grips with the New Zealand and Sri Lankan bowling attacks over the summer, it could stand him in good stead for the bigger cricketing challenges that lie ahead against Pakistan and India.
Not since Kevin Peterson have England had a batsman as destructive as Ben Stokes, so whoever is brought in to replace him must have that x-factor with the bat
Any spinner who has a world class googly in their arsenal should always be on the radar of any international team selector. And Adil Rashid is more than ready to transfer his proven short form skills over into the test arena.
He last played red ball cricket for England in 2019, when he turned out against the West Indies. With Stokes out of action and the likes of Jack Leach and Dom Bess hardly inspiring much confidence with bookies or fans, maybe the best replacement for Stokes would be a top-quality spinner who can also wield the willow a bit.
Making the leap from T20s and ODIs to a test match setting is always a big one to make, especially for young players who do not have the experience of playing red ball cricket beyond county level.
However, sometimes a young player comes along who makes batting and bowling in limited overs cricket look so effortless that it seems only a matter of time before they will break out on the test stage.
Sam and Tom Curran definitely fall into that category, with the former in particular shining in the IPL, where he is often found overshadowing Moeen Ali and MS Dhoni for the Chennai Super Kings.
Playing alongside such legends of the sport mean that Curran’s game is always improving while he is on IPL assignments and the England test side would be silly not to give him at least a smattering of test action this summer. Stokes’ absence is the perfect excuse to throw this match winner into the long form fray.
When you have top order batsmen like Jonny Bairstow and Jos Butler who are more than happy to be dumped down the order, it means that someone like Stokes could be replaced by a top order batsmen.
This is especially true seeing as players like Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley have not really hit their stride for England in tough fixture clashes.
Adam Lyth is an opening bat who is well known to England captain Joe Root, as the two have shared the field for their beloved Yorkshire many times over the years.
Lyth has been in the form of his life at the start of the new domestic season and could add some much-needed solidity to a top order that has a nasty habit of folding under pressure.
The Yorkshire opener did have a previous spell in the test team in 2015 but could be due a second chance now he has more experience under his belt.