Root delighted to have Stokes back for Ashes but warns expectations need to be managed

England captain yet to reveal his XI for the first Test in Brisbane, starting on Wednesday

England captain Joe Root has said he is delighted to have all-rounder Ben Stokes back in the squad for the upcoming Ashes series in Australia but warned that they will need to "manage expectations".

Stokes, 30, took an indefinite break from all cricket in July to prioritise his mental well-being and rest a fractured finger, and there was doubt whether he would travel to Australia.

But England's 2019 Ashes hero was on the plane and is expected to start the first Test in Brisbane on Wednesday to hand the tourists a huge boost as they attempt to reclaim the urn.

"More than anything, it's really good to just see Ben back involved again in the frame of things and to see him come into the limited game time that we had, and to look as good as he did as well," Root, 30 said.

"You always know that when he gets into a game he always wants to put his mark on it and put a stamp on it. But yes, I think there will be an element of managing expectations.

"You've got to trust his experience and, I suppose, our whole bowling group can work collectively to take those wickets and I'm sure Ben will have a big say in that."

Stokes has had limited preparation ahead of his expected return to the England Test side. In his only intra-squad practice match he completed 10 overs, claiming bowling figures of 2-31, before hitting 42 runs from 56 balls before retiring.

Stokes also revealed in a newspaper column last week that he took a nasty blow to his arm in the nets, and nearly choked on a tablet that had become lodged in his throat.

Root declined to confirm his starting XI for Brisbane, saying he didn't "feel comfortable" revealing team details, despite Australia already naming their side.

England must decide on an opening pair, with Rory Burns seemingly a lock-in and either Haseeb Hameed or Zak Crawley accompanying him.

There is also uncertainty over the No 6 slot with Jonny Bairstow and Ollie Pope in contention.

Root, the world's top-ranked Test batsman, insisted their preparations had been "meticulous" heading into a Test at a ground where England have failed to win since 1986, and showers are forecast.

"The most important thing over the course of the next couple of days is we do everything we can to ready ourselves, not just physically, but mentally," he said. "There's obviously been a very different build-up to this series, and this Test match in particular.

"But I think we've planned really well for it and given ourselves the best possible chance with the opportunities we've had to play outside and train outside.

"We just have to be full of confidence and trust all of the work that we've done."

The Gabba surface is green after constant rain, which would suggest whoever wins the toss might bowl, but Root was adamant he had "no idea what I want to do at the toss".

Updated: December 6th 2021, 7:54 AM