Stokes will travel to Australia with England’s Test specialists – the squad minus five players involved in the ongoing T20 World Cup in the UAE – next Wednesday having returned to both batting and bowling with ECB medical staff recently.
Having had an operation, he returned with Durham in the Vitality Blast in June before being pressed into action as England’s stand-in skipper for a three-match ODI series against Pakistan, following a Covid outbreak among the main squad.
He later opened up on how he played through excruciating pain and, after a couple of games in the Hundred, took an indefinite break from the game ahead of England’s Test series against India. He missed all four matches in that series to look after his mental wellbeing and manage the finger injury, which required a second operation recently.
“I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted,” said Stokes.
“I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I’m ready for Australia.”
Ashley Giles, the Managing Director of the England men’s team, was delighted with the news.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
This, needless to say, is an enormous boost for England ahead of a visit to a country in which they have lost nine of their last 10 Tests.
Stokes has not played in Australia since the whitewash of 2013/14, when he made his debut as a 22-year-old. He missed the series down under in 2017/18 as he awaited trial following the incident outside Bristol nightclub Mbargo.
This series comes in Stokes’ prime, aged 30, having left an indelible imprint on Ashes history in the last series between the teams, with his Headingley heist of 2019.
“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.