England superstar Ben Stokes has undergone a second finger operation that looks set to lengthen the odds of what was already an unlikely appearance in this year’s Ashes.
Stokes has been on indefinite leave from cricket since pulling out of this summer’s Test series against India, and the presence of the Headingley hero of 2019 in this summer’s Ashes rematch is very much in doubt.
The 30-year-old sustained a severe break of his left index finger while attempting a catch for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League in April.
He made a surprise playing comeback as captain of a hastily arranged England one-day side in a 3-0 series win over Pakistan in July after the white-ball squad was forced into isolation due to a Covid outbreak.
But that was the last time he was on a cricket field, and now England’s Daily Mirror has reported the same surgeon who operated on the original injury reassessed Stokes’ finger on Monday.
The metal screws were removed and scar tissue that had been causing “searing” pain around Stokes’ tendons and ligaments was addressed.
Stokes was last month omitted from England’s 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup in the UAE, and while Ashes negotiations have turned positive this week for a team to travel to Australia, Stokes is likely to miss it.
Stokes also missed the 2017-18 Ashes tour in the aftermath of the Bristol nightclub incident that led to a playing ban.
But he proved his country’s saviour in the 2019 Ashes Test at Headingley, scoring an imperious 135 not out on the final day of the match as England chased down an improbable 359 – the biggest successful run chase in the team’s history – to win.