Ben Stokes has been added to England’s Ashes squad after declaring himself ready to play competitive cricket again.
The all-rounder was initially unavailable when England named the touring group for Australia, having spent the past three months on an indefinite hiatus to allow a finger injury to heal as well as prioritise his mental health.
However, after having a second surgery on his left index finger earlier this month, Stokes has filmed himself back in the nets batting and bowling, fuelling speculation of an Ashes return, which was confirmed on Monday.
“I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I’m ready for Australia.”
Stokes skipped the summer’s marquee Test series against India and is also absent from the ongoing T20 World Cup being played in the UAE.
After fracturing his finger at the Indian Premier League in April, necessitating surgery, Stokes was still struggling with lingering discomfort in the area when he aborted a tentative comeback in July.
He had a second operation on October 4 to remove two screws and scar tissue and was given the all-clear by his consultant and the England and Wales Cricket Board medical team to resume training.
Stokes will head to Australia alongside the Test specialists and the supplementary Lions group on November 4.
Ashley Giles, the managing director of England men’s cricket, said: “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.
“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.
“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.”