Ben Stokes, an all-rounder for England, has been added to the Test team for the Ashes tour of Australia, which begins on December 8 at The Gabba in Brisbane.
Following his second operation on a fractured left index finger, Stokes has been given the go-ahead by his physician and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) medical staff to begin training. He will depart with the Test specialists and the Lions on November 4.
“The 30-year-old is ready to return to competitive cricket following his break from the game at the end of July to prioritise his mental wellbeing,” the ECB said in a statement on Monday.
Stokes had taken an indefinite break to tend to his mental wellbeing and also his injured finger earlier this year, but he recently returned to the nets, fanning speculation that he was ready to return to the England side.
“I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted,” said Stokes on Monday. “I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I’m ready for Australia.”
The England men’s team managing director, Ashley Giles, added, “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.”
The Joe Root-led side will leave for Australia early next month after the issue of strict quarantine for the tourists was resolved following discussions between Cricket Australia (CA) and the ECB.
“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 (Silverwood), Joe (Root) and the rest of the players,” said Giles.
“We will go cautiously over the next several weeks, as he has not played in a long time, to ensure he is properly prepared in all aspects of his game. We continue to be sensitive to the demands on all of our personnel as we approach a very busy season of cricket, and our primary concern remains the wellness of all of our players and support staff.”
(With IANS inputs)