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Stokes photo prompts dream of Ashes return


Ben Stokes is not in England’s Ashes squad, nor in the Lions party which is also travelling to Australia to provide warm-up opposition and tour cover.

Nonetheless, England fans are dreaming of the all-rounder making a shock Ashes return after he posted pictures on social media of himself gripping a bat properly for the first time since April.

Stokes is on an indefinite break from the game as he priorities his mental wellbeing, but he has also been rehabilitating from a badly-fractured left index finger.

He suffered the injury on Indian Premier League duty for Rajasthan Royals and, although he made tentative comeback appearances during the English summer – even answering an emergency SOS to captain in a coronavirus-threatened ODI series against Pakistan – he was still suffering major discomfort.

Now he has posted photos of the bandaged digit wrapped around a handle, with a caption suggesting it was the first time he has been able to do so since the initial break.

The message went on Instagram and Twitter, with Stokes adding “Ohhh aye lad” by way of comment.

The 30-year-old missed the India Test series at home, will not feature in the T20 World Cup later this month and was also considered unavailable for the Ashes squad which was announced on Sunday.

Head coach Chris Silverwood was keen to take a hands-off approach to Stokes’ eventual return, but it is not impossible that England could allow him to join the Australia series as a late arrival, should he feel he is in the right physical and mental shape to do so.

Speaking at the squad announcement about Stokes, Silverwood said: “Ben is moving forward, the communications I have had with him he is definitely more upbeat.

“But what I will say is there will be no pressure from me for him to rush back. I’ve said ‘when you’re ready you call me and we’ll make a plan from there’. So there’s no pressure from me and no date on it.

“I’m not going to tell him when he comes back. I’ll be led by him and my concern first and foremost is his wellbeing.”



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