Ben Stokes reveals chat with Ashley Giles over Ashes inclusion
Ben Stokes handed England a major boost as he was added to their Ashes squad after declaring his readiness to return to competitive cricket following an extended break.
England’s talismanic all-rounder missed the summer’s marquee Test series against India and is absent from the ongoing T20 World Cup, prioritising his mental health and to allow a fractured left index finger to fully recover.
Stokes initially suffered the injury in April at the Indian Premier League but, despite surgery, he was still in lingering discomfort, which was a factor in him abandoning a comeback towards the back end of July.
However, he had a second operation to remove two screws and scar tissue earlier this month and fuelled speculation of being primed to face Australia this winter by filming himself enthusiastically batting and bowling in the nets.
Having been given the all-clear by his consultant and the England and Wales Cricket Board’s medical team, Stokes has given captain Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood a welcome fillip after it was announced he will head Down Under alongside the Test specialists and supplementary Lions party on November 4.
“I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted,” Stokes said.
“I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I’m ready for Australia.”
Stokes was England’s leading run-scorer in the 2019 series between the teams, with 441 runs at an average of 55.12, including an unforgettable unbeaten century that helped Root’s side to a highly improbable victory at Headingley.
England’s plans for Australia have already taken a knock as Jofra Archer and Olly Stone will definitely miss out through injury, although Silverwood made it clear they were not putting pressure on Stokes about a comeback.
Shortly afterwards, Stokes – who missed the 2017-18 series against Australia because of his involvement in a melee outside a Bristol nightclub – posted a picture of himself gripping a bat properly for the first time in six months.
He has been posting videos on Instagram of his training recently and is now poised for action, having last played cricket on July 26 in The Hundred, just a few days after coming back to England duty on short notice to captain a makeshift side to a 3-0 one-day series clean sweep over Pakistan.
Ashley Giles, managing director of England’s men’s cricket, greeted Stokes’ comeback warmly but insisted gradual steps must be taken over the coming weeks to make sure the 30-year-old is as prepared as he can be for an international return.
Giles said: “Following a very successful operation on his finger and several conversations over the last few weeks between Ben and I, our medical staff and his management team, Ben called me to say he was ready to return to cricket and was excited about the prospect of playing a significant role in the Ashes series.
“Time and time again, Ben has demonstrated how important he is to the England team and having him available for the Ashes series is excellent news for all of us and, in particular, Chris, Joe and the rest of the players.
“Having not played for some time, we will move forward cautiously over the next few weeks to ensure he is fully prepared across all facets of his game.
“Ahead of a very busy period of cricket, we continue to remain mindful of the stresses on all our personnel, and our primary focus continues to be the wellbeing of all of our players and support staff.”
England’s first Test against Australia is currently scheduled to start in Brisbane on December 8, with the five-match series concluding in Perth on January 18.
Phil Salt grateful for England backing after starring in big win over Pakistan
The opener had scored just 59 runs in his first five innings on tour but blazed 87 not out to guide England to victory over Pakistan on Friday.
Phil Salt powers England to emphatic win over Pakistan as series goes to decider
Opener Salt scored an unbeaten 88 as England won by eight wickets.
Unbeaten Babar Azam gives Pakistan shot at wrapping up England series
Babar held court throughout the 20 overs and guided his team to 169 for six.
Liam Norwell saves Warwickshire as Yorkshire suffer relegation to Division Two
Norwell’s career-best nine wickets for 62 runs sealed a five-run win over Hampshire on a thrilling final day of the season.
DCMS hearing on discrimination in cricket pencilled in for December 13
Azeem Rafiq and Lord Patel are set to be asked to appear.
England captain Jos Buttler ‘learning lots’ despite not playing in Pakistan
Buttler has a calf injury, which has ruled him out of the T20 series so far, but he insisted on travelling and has been observing throughout the trip.
We’re a better team than that – England’s batting disappoints Moeen Ali
The tourists were unable to make 146 in their Twenty20 chase against Pakistan.
Moeen Ali heroics in vain as Pakistan take series lead over England
The tourists failed to chase 146 in Lahore.
Warwickshire up against it to avoid relegation as Yorkshire nervously watch on
The Bears need to beat Hampshire to overhaul Yorkshire.
Mark Wood stars with his fierce pace as England restrict Pakistan total
Wood returned to the side after a rest and picked up three for 20 in another rousing burst.