Ben Stokes: Will England’s superstar all-rounder recover to take on Australia in The Ashes?

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has undergone another operation on the left index finger that has contributed to his period of indefinite leave from cricket and placed his participation in this winter’s Ashes in serious doubt.

INJURY WOE: Ben Stokes pictured celebrating hitting the winning runs to win the third Ashes Test against Australia at Headingley in August 2019 - it remains to be seen if he is fit enough to head Down Under this winter. Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Stokes has been on a sabbatical since the end of July, when it emerged he wanted to focus on his mental wellbeing as well as allow the injury - he first suffered while fielding in the Indian Premier League in April - to fully heal.

He first had surgery after an X-ray detected a fracture, but he described feeling “ridiculous” pain when he came back at short notice to captain a makeshift England side to a 3-0 one-day series clean sweep over Pakistan.

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The 30-year-old missed the Test series against India and was ruled out of the forthcoming Twenty20 World Cup, while he went back under the knife earlier this week with a couple of screws and scar tissue taken out of his finger.

Ben Stokes was most recently in action in The Hundred for the Headingley-based Northern Superchargers. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

While it has been reported the latest procedure was successful, he remains unlikely to feature in the Ashes if the series goes ahead with England once again not wanting to put any timescale on Stokes’ return.

A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board said: “Ben Stokes has undergone a second operation on Monday 4 October to address ongoing issues with the finger that he injured in the IPL in April.

“Stokes had two screws and scar tissue removed from the index finger of his left hand.

“He will now undergo an intensive period of rehabilitation for the next four weeks under the supervision of the ECB’s medical team.”

England's Ben Stokes (left) pictured with Yorkshire's England Test captain, Joe Root, at Edgbaston in 2019. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Stokes answered England’s SOS over the summer after an outbreak of Covid-19 among players and backroom staff ahead of the ODI series against Pakistan led to a stand-in squad being hastily assembled.

But while his team sprung a mild surprise by winning all three matches, Stokes admitted he was still hugely irritated by his finger injury and had a pain-killing steroid injection to make it through the series.

Stokes, the talisman of England’s 2019 World Cup-winning campaign, then had a cameo in the inaugural edition of The Hundred in July before it came to light the finger injury was compounded by him struggling with off-field issues.

He was placed on an indeterminate hiatus with England’s blessing and is said to have had little contact with those in the team, apart from Test captain Joe Root, who said days after it emerged Stokes was taking a break: “I just want my friend to be OK.”

Stokes posted the first picture of himself on Instagram since July on Tuesday, showing his left finger with heavy strapping, and is understood to be focusing on his rehabilitation and not on a cricketing comeback just yet.