England’s sole Ashes starlet, Ben Stokes, is eager to continue his cricket development over the coming season, as he returns to fitness following a broken hand.
The Durham all-rounder scored the only Test century that the Barmy Army could cheer on down under, but suffered an injury during England’s limited-overs tour of the West Indies, which ruled him out of contention for the World T20.
Stokes punched a dressing room locker after being dismissed for a first-ball duck in the Caribbean, and cost him a trip to Bangladesh for the tournament. Nevertheless, with recovery nearly completed, the 22-year-old is keen to resume where he left off from earlier this year.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Stokes stated: "I'm back in the gym trying to get myself fit and it's good to get myself back on my feet and keeping busy.
"There's no time frame yet (on my recovery). It's a matter of healing still and more of a feeling thing and we'll see what the specialist says in four weeks' time.”
The freak injury has delayed the all-rounder’s start to the season as he misses the opening County Championship matches of the campaign. However, Stokes is eager for a return to Twenty20 cricket.
After missing the World T20 tournament, Stokes is relishing the opportunity to play the same format domestically. And he will be treated to a slightly different 20-over set-up in
The Natwest T20 Blast begins on May 16, and has plenty of Friday night matches scheduled, making for better crowds and a heightened atmosphere in the county game.
With that in mind, Stokes can’t wait for it to begin: "I'm looking forward to it because it's a new start to the Twenty20 game in England. Hopefully I will have some part to play because I want to see what it's all about."
And the Durham Jets enter the new season under the guidance of Jon Lewis, who is now the club’s permanent first team coach. The former England bowler moved into the
role when Geoff Cook suffered a heart attack last summer, but now he has taken over on a full-time basis.
The New Zealand-born cricketer believes that Lewis has made a strong start in his new
profession: “It’s gone really well so far. He's come into the job and done really well. Obviously it's also good to see Geoff coming back into the changing room and in another role."
But attention must also be attuned towards the England dressing room – a place where Stokes will want to return to as soon as possible, providing it isn’t the scene of further broken bones.
He also reflected on his time in Australia, which was his first tour with the England senior squad. Aside from making his debut, the trip was memorable for a maiden Test hundred at Perth and a five-wicket haul in Sydney.
Whilst players around his crumbled, the youngster stood firm against an intimidating opposition and a hostile crowd, yet despite his personal achievement, Stokes is still disenchanted.
"It was disappointing but I can look back on it and take away some good personal moments. But it would have been better if we had done a little better from a team of point of view," he added.
Stokes has until June 12 to get himself fit enough to play in the opening Test of the English summer, against Sri Lanka at Lord’s.
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