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Ben Stokes teases surprise return

Star all-rounder Ben Stokes has teased a possible return to cricket in time for this summer’s Ashes series.

Stokes was left out of England’s 17-man squad named earlier this week, as he recovers from finger surgery. He’s also taking an indefinite break from the game to deal with mental health issues.

The all-rounder has now used an Instagram post to highlight the progress he’s made on his injured finger, which was recently operated on for a second time.

“12th April Broken Finger … 11th October first time since breaking being able to get it round my handle,” he wrote.

Stokes missed the last Ashes series in Australia, in 2017-18, amid the fallout from an incident outside a Bristol nightclub.

But he proved the difference in the 2-2 draw in England in 2019, including a remarkable innings of 135 not out at Headingley which saw the home side steal a famous victory.

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor told Wide World of Sports earlier this week that had Stokes not been in the England team, Australia would likely have won the series 3-0 or 4-0.

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When the squad was released, England coach Chris Silverwood left the door open for Stokes to be included at a later date if he feels up to it.

“Ben is moving forward, the communications I have had with him he is definitely more upbeat,” Silverwood said.

“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. And when he does come back we’ll make sure he’s in the right place.”

But former England captain Michael Vaughan has told the BBC, Stokes would be better off taking a cautious approach.

“The problem with an Ashes series, and Ben’s got to be realistic, the pressure that you’re under, the spotlight, on someone like Ben who did so much in 2019, he might think he’ll gamble or go a little bit early,” Vaughan said.

“The one piece of advice, from seeing others struggle in the past, just take a little bit longer.

“If it’s a bit longer and you comeback and you’re fine, that’s better than coming back a little bit too soon and you’re not quite right.”

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