Stokes has second operation on finger, big doubt for Ashes

Filed on October 7, 2021
England allrounder Ben Stokes. — Reuters file

England allrounder had two screws and scar tissue removed from the index finger on his left hand on Monday

Ben Stokes has undergone a second operation on the finger he injured in April, placing the allrounder’s participation in the Ashes series in further doubt.

Stokes had two screws and scar tissue removed from the index finger on his left hand on Monday, the England and Wales Cricket Board said on Thursday, and will undergo an intensive period of rehabilitation for the next four weeks.

Stokes injured his finger while playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League in April.

He made a comeback in July, after a first operation, as an emergency captain of England’s makeshift one-day international team for a series against Pakistan. But he played in pain and required steroid injections to make it through the three games.

Since then, the 30-year-old Stokes has been on an indefinite break from cricket because of the injury and to “prioritize his mental wellbeing.” It meant he missed the Test series against India and was ruled out of the Twenty20 World Cup, which starts this month.

Stokes remains unlikely to feature in the Ashes — if the series goes ahead, given players’ concerns about pandemic-related restrictions in Australia — with England still not putting any timescale on Stokes’ return.

Stokes is said to have had little contact with those in the team, apart from Test captain Joe Root, who said days after it emerged Stokes was taking a break: “I just want my friend to be OK.”

On Tuesday, Stokes posted the first picture of himself on Instagram since July, showing his left finger with heavy strapping.

England are set to announce on Friday whether the team will travel to Australia for the Ashes, with Australian players’ chief Todd Greenberg indicating Root and his teammates are satisfied procedures are in place for England’s players and families to travel.

“The long and the short of it, for me, is the England players have handled themselves really well, they’ve asked the right questions, they’ve been really professional in the way they’ve dealt with that and all credit to them,” Greenberg told Australian newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald this week.

“They’re going to get a good result here because the conditions they’ll tour in will be fantastic, and we’ll have a great Ashes summer.”

Watmore steps down

The top official in English cricket quit on Thursday, saying the decision was taken for his wellbeing because the Covid-19 demands of the job have “taken a personal toll on me.”

Ian Watmore has stepped down as chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board after serving barely a year in the role.

The ECB said Watmore was leaving his position immediately, following the end of the domestic season that contained the inaugural season of a controversial new competition, The Hundred.

“It is with regret that I step down as chair of the ECB, but I do so in mindfulness of my own wellbeing and that of the game which I love,” Watmore said. “I was appointed to the post in a pre-pandemic era, but Covid has meant the role and its demands on time are dramatically different to all our original expectations, which has taken a personal toll on me.

“Given this, the board and I feel the ECB will be better served by a new chair to take it forward post pandemic.” —AP

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