England’s Ben Stokes missed the summer series against India and will not be at the T20 World Cup to focus on mental well-being; All-rounder isn’t on the 17-man Ashes squad, but the update is likely fueling speculation about his inclusion
England’s all-rounder Ben Stokes has returned to the net for the first time since taking an indefinite break from cricket.
Stokes was absent from the most important test series of the summer against India and will also miss the upcoming T20 World Cup to focus on his mental well-being, but has also been affected by a finger injury in recent months.
After needing surgery on a broken left index finger in the Indian Premier League in April, Stokes was still struggling with lingering discomfort in the area when he abandoned a tentative comeback in July.
He underwent a second operation on October 4 to remove two screws and scar tissue.
After posting a photo of himself on Instagram Monday holding a bat properly for the first time in six months, he participated in a gentle networking session on Thursday.
“It’s great to hit balls again,” Stokes said, in one of three Instagram videos receiving pitches from England’s physical therapist Craig De Weymarn.
Stokes’ update is likely fueling speculation that he will appear in the Ashes. It was deemed unavailable when the 17-man team that will travel to Australia was named earlier this month.
England have repeatedly stressed that they will not pressure Stokes to return, with head coach Chris Silverwood and captain Joe Root taking a hands-off approach to the situation, and Mo Bobat echoed those sentiments on Thursday.
“It’s very positive and very exciting,” said the director of performance for the England and Wales Cricket Board.
“It certainly seems like the additional medical stuff that happened and the removal of scar tissue and everything else that he had done has freed his finger and restored that feeling of confidence to his fingers.
Ultimately, given what he’s experienced and where he’s been, it’s important that he and we move at the right pace for him. Certainly there is no pressure or expectation on our part.
“It’s a case where we support Ben physically, and whatever we need to support him, but support him so that he can continue to progress at the rate that he would like and feel comfortable with.”