- Ben Stokes is set to undergo surgery on a knee injury after the Cricket World Cup
- The all-rounder admitted that his side had endured a ‘disastrous’ campaign
- Stokes is likely to play during England’s ODI match against Australia on Saturday
Ben Stokes will undergo surgery on his troublesome left knee after the World Cup in a bid to return to India for a five-Test series in January as a fully functioning all-rounder – and says he has ‘no regrets’ about unretiring from ODIs.
Stokes, who has not bowled for England since the second Ashes Test at Lord’s in late June, admitted his status as a specialist batsman has been ‘a big hindrance’ – not just for the Test team, but for the one-day side, whose performances out here he described as ‘crap’ ahead of Saturday’s match against Australia.
He plans to have the operation shortly after England’s last game – barring a mathematical miracle, against Pakistan in Kolkata on November 11.
An expected recovery period of five to seven weeks would give him time to get ready for the first Test at Hyderabad on January 25, with the squad flying out a fortnight earlier for a pre-tour camp in the UAE.
‘There was a lot of time put into deciding when to get it done,’ he said. ‘I should be fine to go by the India Test series.’
Ben Stokes will undergo surgery on a troublesome knee injury following England’s Cricket World Cup campaign
The England red ball captain admitted that the ODI team had endured a ‘disastrous’ World Cup
Stokes also claimed that he had ‘no regrets’ about coming out of retirement to re-join Matthew Mott’s ODI squad in India
Asked whether he intended to return as a seam-bowling all-rounder, he replied: ‘It’s been a long time coming, and obviously I want to get back to what I’ve been doing prior to the 18 months where I’ve had this injury.
‘It’s been a big hindrance on me and affected what I can do for the team. Obviously that’s what I want to be doing.
‘You’d hope that it means that I can get back to doing what I’ve been known for, which is playing a role as a batter, and playing a role as a bowler as well.’
There has been uncertainty about whether Stokes would go under the knife at all, especially as it was unclear if his problem – chronic tendonitis, as well as an absence of cartilage, which causes bone-on-bone friction – could even be solved by surgery.
And he remained unsure of the operation’s precise nature. ‘I always go down with the docs and the physios and they use language I’ve never heard before,’ he said.
‘There’s obviously something that needs to be operated on. I’ll switch off and let Andy Williams, the surgeon, do what he does best, which is fix knees.’
The Bond Street-based Williams has advised Stokes in the past, and fixed Chris Woakes’s own knee issues in time for the final three Tests of the Ashes, where he was player of the series.
England: 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 Dawid Malan, 3 Joe Root, 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Jos Buttler (capt, wkt), 6 Harry Brook, 7 Liam Livingstone, 8 David Willey, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood.
Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Travis Head, 3 Steve Smith, 4 Marnus Labuschagne, 5 Josh Inglis (wkt), 6 Cameron Green, 7 Marcus Stoinis, 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
Stokes said he didn’t regret his decision to play in a tournament in which he missed the first three games with a hip injury, and has since made 48 runs off 91 balls, culminating in an ugly 10-ball duck against India in Lucknow last Sunday.
‘If we were in a better position, I wouldn’t be asked the question,’ he said. ‘It is an easy question to ask when things have gone wrong. It was the right decision and I have no regrets whatsoever.’
He did admit, though, that England’s attempts to defend their title had been ‘crap’. He added: ‘We’ve had a disastrous World Cup and there’s no point sugar-coating that, because it’s the truth. But we know these last three games – we’ve got a lot to play for.’
It is embarrassing for everyone involved that the height of their ambition going into the final three matches is the top-eight finish that would ensure qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan.
But England will not want to an Australian side that will be without all-rounders Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell the pleasure of sealing their fate – especially not after the summer’s passive-aggressive Ashes.
Australian captain Pat Cummins said he was ‘a bit surprised’ by England’s struggles, but for all the politeness there is no love lost between these teams.
When England lost to Sri Lanka in Bangalore last week, a group of Australian players – watching on a TV screen at a bar in Dharamshala – broke into spontaneous applause.
‘I think there’s always going to be that little niggle between England and Australia,’ said Stokes. ‘I’m too old and wise to hang on to anything like that.’
There has been some uncertainty over whether Stokes would undergo surgery on the long-standing knee injury
England will re-ignite their feud with Australia on Saturday at the tournament, with stokes also saying that he was ‘too old and wise’ for the added niggle that comes with the clash
Stokes recently made the decision to turn down a three-year central contract from the ECB
Meanwhile, he defended his recent decision to turn down a three-year central contract from the ECB.
‘I signed a one-year contract because if I signed any longer, I would be signing a blank paper, where I didn’t know what was on it,’ he said, before citing next year’s new memorandum of understanding between the ECB and the Team England Player Partnership, which may change the financial landscape.
‘I don’t think it’s wrong of me to not sign something where I’ve got no idea what the terms or conditions are.’
For now, England need Stokes to focus on what he does best. Victory today against Australia would go at least a little way towards softening the blow of the last few weeks.