When’s the next plane to Oz? Ben Stokes says he can grip a bat properly for the first time in months after surgery on his broken finger as England’s star all-rounder raises hopes he might make the Ashes
- Ben Stokes posted on social media a picture of him gripping a bat once again
- It follows two operations over the summer to fix a broken index finger
- The England all-rounder is taking an ‘indefinite break’ to focus on mental health
- But the door wasn’t fully closed on Stokes taking part in this winter’s Ashes
Ben Stokes has offered encouragement he might return to action soon after posting a picture showing him gripping a bat for the first time since breaking his finger in April.
England’s talismanic all-rounder fractured his left index finger attempting to take a catch while playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League six months ago.
Earlier this month, he underwent a successful second operation at the hands of Leeds surgeon Doug Campbell, who removed the screws from the finger and treated scar tissue that had been causing Stokes considerable pain.
England’s Ben Stokes posted a social media picture showing him gripping a bat properly for the first time in several months after surgery on his left index finger
The update has raised hopes England’s all-rounder could return to action soon though he remains on an ‘indefinite break’ from the game to prioritise his mental health
The 30-year-old played through the pain barrier to captain England’s hastily-assembled one-day team to a 3-0 series win over Pakistan in July after a Covid outbreak quarantined the original squad.
He appeared for Northern Superchargers against Trent Rockets in The Hundred on July 26 but hasn’t played cricket since, having announced on July 30 he would take an ‘indefinite break’ from the game to focus on his mental health and to allow his finger to recover.
Stokes hasn’t been included in England’s squads for the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates or the Ashes tour of Australia this winter.
But the door hasn’t been fully closed on the prospect of him playing at least some of the five-Test series Down Under and a social media update from Stokes showed him able to properly grip a bat for the first time in months.
Stokes was last involved for England when he filled in as captain for the ODI series against Pakistan in July
The door was not closed on Stokes playing some part in the Ashes despite his exclusion from the 17-man squad announced over the weekend.
England head coach Chris Silverwood said: ‘Ben is moving forward, [from] the communications I have had with him he is definitely more upbeat.
‘What I will say is there will be no pressure from me for Ben to rush back. I’ve said, ‘when you’re ready you call me and we’ll make a plan from there.’
‘First and foremost, my intent is making sure he is OK from a well-being point of view and that when he is back, he is ready to perform.’
Having not played since July, Stokes would naturally need time to get up to speed even if he decided he wanted to end his ‘indefinite break’ from the game by taking part in the toughest tour of them all.
The first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane gets underway on December 8.
More to follow.