‘Great to be back hitting balls’: England talisman Ben Stokes raises hopes further of being fit for the Ashes as he bats for the first time in THREE MONTHS… and his last shot was a lot better than his first!
- Ben Stokes has not played cricket since taking an indefinite break in July
- The England star is prioritising his mental health but also broke his finger in April
- After his aborted summer comeback, Stokes reported this week that he was able to grip a bat properly for the first time since April
- He provided further good news with videos of him hitting balls in the nets
- Ashes starts on December 8, with England flying to Australia on November 4
Stokes broke his left index finger attempting to catch a lofted drive from Chris Gayle in the IPL in April. He returned less than three months later after surgery to captain a young, Covid-depleted England side in their ODI series win over Pakistan in July, but struggled to bat and could not grip the handle properly.
Stokes announced an indefinite break from the game to protect his mental health shortly after that series finished in late July, with his injured finger also playing a role in the decision.
Ben Stokes hit a trademark straight drive as he batted for the first time since July
Stokes captained England to an ODI series win over Pakistan in July before taking a break
The 30-year-old was not named in England’s Ashes squad last week and captain Joe Root has stressed he will only return when he is ready, but Stokes has got England fans excited with his Instagram posts this week.
The day after England announced their squad, Stokes posted a picture of his clenched hand holding his bat and wrote: ‘First time since breaking being able to get it round my handle.’
He followed that up on Thursday with three Instagram videos of him hitting balls in the nets. The first was a horrible miscue off the toe-end of the bat, but after getting his eye in, Stokes hit a sumptuous, trademark straight drive to offer encouragement of a return sooner rather than later.
Stokes, who was wearing a hoody, beany hat and tracksuit bottoms, before taking off the hoody to play in a T-shirt, wrote alongside the post: ‘It’s casual clothes training on a Thursday… Generally my first ball back and this is what happened [laughing face emoji]… Then a bit of making sure I don’t break my toe… Then eventually hit a nice one… Great to be back hitting balls.’
Stokes’ first shot since July left a lot of room for improvement as it came off the toe-end
Stokes posted a picture of him gripping a bat properly for the first time in several months
Stokes had a second surgery last week to remove scar tissue from his finger and is unlikely to be fully fit for another month.
England fly out to Australia on November 4 so they can complete their quarantine period ahead of starting preparations for the five-match Ashes series which begins on December 8 in Brisbane.
The series is not due to finish until January 18 in Perth, meaning players will be away for 11 weeks, but they are allowed to take their families with them to stay in a plush hotel after months of negotiations with Cricket Australia.
Some of Stokes’ best moments for England have come against Australia, most notably when his 135 not out secured a one-wicket win at Headingley in 2019.
The latest 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