English all-rounder Ben Stokes raised hopes for Ashes’ surprise return, posting a video on social media of his first online session in months.
Stokes recently had a second surgery on his broken finger, after taking an indefinite hiatus from gambling almost three months ago to deal with his sanity.
The 30-year-old initially injured his finger while playing in the Indian Premier League in April.
He was not named to England’s 17-man Ashes squad, but coach Chris Silverwood said earlier this week the door remains open for the all-round star.
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“It’s great to be back hitting balls,” Stokes wrote on Instagram while posting three short clips of him throwing himself.
“It is extremely positive and extremely exciting,” said England director of performances Mo Bobat.
“Sure, it looks like the extra medical stuff that happened and the scar tissue removal and everything he had done freed his finger and it gave him confidence in his fingers.
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“At the end of the day, given what he’s been through and where he’s been, it’s important that he and we move forward at the right pace for him. There is certainly no pressure or expectation on our part.
“It’s about supporting us physically Ben and yet we have to support him but support him so that he can continue to progress at the pace he wants and feel comfortable.”
Stokes made the difference in the 2-2 series draw in England in 2019, including a remarkable 135 inning at Headingley that saw the home side steal a famous victory.
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor told Wide World of Sports earlier this week that Stokes had not made the England squad, Australia would likely have won the series 3-0 or 4-0.
When announcing the England squad earlier this week, Silverwood said the door remains open for Stokes to make a comeback.
“Ben is moving forward, the communications I had with him are much more optimistic,” he explained.
“But what I will say is that there will be no pressure on my part to rush him. I said, ‘When you are ready, call me and we will make a plan to go. away. ”So there is no pressure from me and no date on it.
“I’m not going to tell him when he comes back. I will be guided by him and my foremost concern is his well-being. And when he comes back, we’ll make sure he’s in the right place.”
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