Ben Stokes says he is excited at the prospect of facing Australia as he prepares to return following a long break to focus on his mental health and recover from a finger injury.
The 30-year-old, who has not played any cricket since July, was added to Chris Silverwood’s 17-man squad last month.
Joe Root’s men fly to Australia on Thursday for the five-Test Ashes series beginning on 8 December in Brisbane and Stokes said he was raring to go.
“I took it day by day and had fantastic support around me,” he told Sky Sports. I’m excited to get out there and can’t wait to see everyone.”
The all-rounder’s return is a major boost for England, who are seeking their first series win Down Under since 2010-11.
Stokes made his Ashes debut in 2013-14, scoring a maiden Test century in tough batting conditions in Perth but failed to prevent a 5-0 whitewash.
He cemented his reputation as England’s talisman during the 2019 Ashes in England, hitting an unbeaten 135 as the home side successfully chased a record fourth-innings target of 359 at Headingley with one wicket remaining.
Stokes missed England’s last tour of Australia four years ago after his involvement in a brawl outside a nightclub. He was subsequently found not guilty of affray.
But the Durham player attempted to downplay the significance of his return.
“One player doesn’t make a team,” he said. “Every member of that team is just as important. Everyone’s capable of winning that match by themselves.”
England captain Root also sought to temper expectations about the return of the all-rounder.
“He’s got a lot of work to do to get himself back to the Ben Stokes we all know,” said the skipper.
“He is a massive asset. We are going to have periods of play where it’s going to be very challenging.
“We’re going to have people stick their hands up and grab the game – he is someone who will always do that.”
© Agence France-Presse