England captain Ben Stokes is prepared to have “serious conversations” about an operation on his troublesome left knee as he eyes another tilt at the Ashes in 2025-26.
Stokes has been hampered by a chronic injury for the past year and has often been in evident pain during the ongoing series against Australia.
The all-rounder had hoped to play a full part with bat and ball but the usually lively swing bowler has been restricted to just 29 overs so far this Ashes and didn’t bowl at all in the last two Tests.
With batting and fielding also testing his physical endurance, the 32-year-old accepts he cannot go on in the same way much longer and still perform at the highest level.
But this week’s Ashes finale at The Oval – which the hosts must win to square the series at 2-2 – is also England’s last Test for six months before a tour of India and that gap between red-ball matches could give Stokes time for an operation.
He had a cortisone injection ahead of this year’s IPL to help manage his symptoms and, asked on Wednesday on the eve of the Ashes finale, if he would now consider surgery as well, Stokes replied: “Yeah, it’s something I obviously want to get sorted.
“The times I’ve seen specialists and stuff like that, there has been cricket around, so as it’s been manageable we’ve just cracked on.
“I was pretty broken after the Lord’s game [where his stunning 155 could not prevent Australia winning the second Test], but I still managed to walk out.
“I think this is a good time to have some serious conversations with medics around what I could potentially do to get a role in which I can bowl without having to worry about my knee. Those are conversations we will be able to have in that time off.”
“It has been frustrating in the past couple of years, not being able to have the same impact and play the same role that I have done for the past 10 years.”
Holders Australia are already assured of retaining the Ashes at 2-1 up, regardless of the result of this week’s match in London.
That means it will be at least a decade between England Ashes series wins, having last triumphed in 2015.
Stokes said he would love to be involved when England head Down Under for the next edition.
“It’d be nice to go out to Australia in 2025 and have a good chance of winning,” he said.
“How this series has gone and how close we were, it does make you think when we next go to Australia ‘do we have a better chance than the last few times?’
“The Ashes is such an important series for English and Australian cricket and it would be nice to say I’ve won it twice.”
Although Stokes has officially retired from ODIs, England would welcome him back for their 50-over World Cup title defence in India later this year given how much he did to help them lift the trophy on home soil four years ago.
Stokes, however, dismissed talk of an ODI return at the World Cup by saying: “I’m retired.”
He added: “I’m going on holiday after this game. That’s as far as I’m thinking. But there’s only so much ‘break’ you can cope with. You really do miss that environment, when you’re around the other lads. In two or three weeks I’ll probably get bored and just schedule a squad game or something like that.”
© Agence France-Presse