The Ashes: Joe Root eases Ben Stokes fitness concerns after all-rounder hit on arm in the nets | Cricket News


Joe Root says Ben Stokes doing “pretty well” after injury scare in the nets but adds England will monitor star all-rounder ahead of first Ashes Test; Root urges team to play “proper cricket” in warm-up game against England Lions; England won’t get “sidetracked” by Australia’s troubles

Last Updated: 29/11/21 1:32pm


Joe Root says England must be 'smart' with Ben Stokes following his return to the Test squad

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Joe Root says England must be ‘smart’ with Ben Stokes following his return to the Test squad

Joe Root says England must be ‘smart’ with Ben Stokes following his return to the Test squad

Joe Root has eased concerns over Ben Stokes’ fitness ahead of The Ashes after the all-rounder suffered a blow on the arm during a net session.

Stokes wrote in his Daily Mirror column that he initially thought his forearm was broken after being struck by a ball from batting coach Jonathan Trott.

Speaking ahead of England’s four-day warm-up game against England Lions in Brisbane from Tuesday, captain Root said Stokes appears to have come through the scare “pretty well”.

He said: “It was a little bit of a concern. I think the wickets, because of the weather, had been slightly spicy, and guys have had to really get stuck in. There have been a few little knocks here and there.

Stokes was hit on the arm during a net session

Stokes was hit on the arm during a net session

“To see Ben get hit like that was obviously a scare as we all know how crucial he is within our squad but he seems to have come through it pretty well and practised again.

“We’ll keep assessing and making sure that it doesn’t have a prolonged effect on him. It’s going to be really important that he gets himself ready, both physically and mentally, for this series to play a big part in it.”

Stokes has recently returned following a break from cricket in order to prioritise his mental wellbeing and rehab a finger injury, with his last competitive match coming back in July.

Root added: “It has been great to have Ben back around the group and back in training but we will have to gauge [his availability] closer to the time.

“Obviously we would benefit from having his game but if we don’t we will have to be smart and work around it. We have to judge it as best we can with the information available to us.”

Root says England's final warm-up game against England Lions will be played with 'intensity'

Root says England’s final warm-up game against England Lions will be played with ‘intensity’

England’s first Ashes warm-up was affected by rain with only 29 overs possible, and more wet weather is forecast in Brisbane for their final game before the Ashes opener at The Gabba from December 8.

The match will mark the first time the entire Ashes squad has been together, with players who featured in the T20 World Cup only linking up with their team-mates on the morning of the match after their mandatory quarantine.

Root is adamant that, rain-affected or not, England must take plenty from the fixture and that it will have the “intensity” of a first-class encounter.

He said: “A lot of people will want to prove things and that they deserve an opportunity in that first Test. I expect the standards to be very high and for it to be very competitive and so it should be.

“This is a really good chance for us to get ahead of Australia in terms of game time ahead of this series. It would be silly for us to cosy our way through the four days – it has to be good, hard, proper cricket that we will benefit from.

“We need to find ways of making sure by the time that first ball comes down at The Gabba that we are in the best place possible to come out on top. Even if there is weather around, I know we will be making sure there is something available for us if we require it.”

Australia's new Test captain Pat Cummins says he feels well-equipped to move into the role

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Australia’s new Test captain Pat Cummins says he feels well-equipped to move into the role

Australia’s new Test captain Pat Cummins says he feels well-equipped to move into the role

While Root’s side’s Ashes build-up has been dominated by the allegations of racism at Yorkshire and across the wider English game, Australia have had to deal with the resignation of captain Tim Paine following historical explicit texts, with seam bowler Pat Cummins now confirmed as Test skipper.

Root says England are paying little attention to Australia’s situation as they look to win a series down under for the first time since 2010/11, with Root having been part of the squad that lost 5-0 in 2013/14 and then captaining a side beaten 4-0 in 2017/18.

Root said: “It doesn’t change how we’re going to prepare. It doesn’t change the fact that we respect Australia as a team and what they will bring to this series.

Australia's new vice-captain Steve Smith understands some people will not be happy with his appointment following the ball-tampering scandal that saw him banned from cricket for a year

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Australia’s new vice-captain Steve Smith understands some people will not be happy with his appointment following the ball-tampering scandal that saw him banned from cricket for a year

Australia’s new vice-captain Steve Smith understands some people will not be happy with his appointment following the ball-tampering scandal that saw him banned from cricket for a year

“I don’t want us as a team to get sidetracked by what’s happening in their camp. It’s not for us to worry about and it’s important we focus on ourselves.

“I know exactly what it is like to be on the wrong side of series out here and it’s the dream as an England player to play in Australia and win, the cherry on top, if you like. We feel we have a brilliant opportunity ahead of us.

“If we can control our emotions, play to our skill level, be smart in certain situations and do things differently to how we have done them previously, then I believe we have a brilliant chance to do something special.”





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