Return of miracle-man Stokes alters complexion of Ashes completely

The addition of Ben Stokes to England’s Ashes squad will lift Joe Root’s men and cause even the most confident of Australians to suffer a few sleepless nights

He’s back! The ginger-haired miracle-maker, the swaggering game-changer, the un-stoppered bottle of pungent cologne that promises the world with a single whiff. Yes, against all the odds, England will be drenched in eau de Ben Stokes during the Ashes this winter, and a little goes a very long way.

Stokes has spent much of the summer bedding down, after stepping away from cricket to prioritise his mental health and to rest a left index finger that had been plaguing him since he broke it playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the first part of the IPL in the spring. There were hopes that he might return, but none of his England teammates seemed to dare to dream, they just wanted him well.

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Ben Stokes added to England’s Ashes squad and ‘ready for Australia’

  • Stokes had taken break to ‘prioritise mental wellbeing’
  • All-rounder fit again after surgery on index finger

Ben Stokes has been added to the England men’s Test squad for the Ashes tour and says he is “ready for Australia” after taking a break from cricket.

The Durham all-rounder has been given the all-clear to resume training following a second operation on a fractured left index finger and will join the squad on the 4 November.

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Not so fast: Australia’s pace worked but spin will be vital at T20 World Cup | Geoff Lemon

In Australia, you don’t so much pick an XI as fill gaps around those who aren’t allowed to be left out

When it comes to having a cricket philosophy, Australia’s is marked by a deep stubbornness on any number of matters that, depending on the case, can range from endearing to aggravating. At its best, it reflects loyalty, determination, self-belief; at its worst, hierarchical obeisance and damaging inflexibility. At its core is a belief in the exceptionalism of its players.

Getting overly technical or detailed with tactics or selection is treated as emasculatory. Even worse if other nations have set the lead, given their cricket is to Australians naturally inferior. The mindset is explicable given the decades of Australia winning in bulk, to the point that it no longer mattered whether it happened because of or in spite of the prevailing attitude – the correlation was deemed causative enough.

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