Ben Stokes undergoes second operation on finger but Ashes remain unlikely

Ben Stokes has undergone a second operation on his long-standing finger injury but remains unlikely to feature in England’s upcoming Ashes squad. Stokes has been on indefinite leave since the end of July in order to focus on his mental wellbeing and rest the left index finger the all-rounder first broke while fielding during the Indian Premier League in April.

The injury required an operation at the time but when he made an early comeback in July – captaining a makeshift England one-day international team to a 3-0 win against Pakistan after an outbreak of Covid-19 among the first team – Stokes struggled to play pain-free and required injections.

This inability to perform at his optimum level and an admission he was also struggling with off-field issues led to Stokes being signed off by England for the remainder of the summer and, more recently, ruled out of the white-ball team’s upcoming T20 World Cup campaign.

According to the Daily Mirror, for whom Stokes writes a column, a further operation was undertaken on Monday to remove screws from the finger and the scar tissue that was causing him problems while trying to grip the bat.

Though the follow-up procedure is reported to have been a success, England have not thus far pushed the 30-year-old on a return date, instead opting to give him space to work through his personal issues. Bar his close friend and captain, Joe Root, contact with teammates is said to have been minimal.

As such there remains little expectation that Stokes will be among the enlarged Ashes and Lions squad named by the head coach, Chris Silverwood, once the tour is finally signed off by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The ECB board will meet this Friday evening and, though there are still some minor details over logistics to finalise, it is expected to give the green light following positive talks with Cricket Australia and Australian government representatives on Tuesday.

Stokes is, however, likely to feature among the new batch of men’s central contracts for the 2021-22 period that will be announced in the coming days, with the seam bowler Ollie Robinson also likely to receive his first England deal after a breakthrough summer of 28 wickets in five Tests.