England captain Joe Root has welcomed Ben Stokes’s return to the Ashes squad, saying that it’s the most exciting thing for him to see star all-rounder’s return to cricket.
Stokes had taken an indefinite break from cricket in July to focus on his mental health and recover from a finger injury. He was not included in England’s initial squad for the Ashes 2021-22 series.
However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) later announced that Stokes would be available for the series, which is due to start on December 8.
“I’d got an inkling. I’d had some good conversations with Ben over the period while he’s not been playing. It was just such a joy to hear him speak, you could almost hear his smile, if that makes sense, on the phone. You could tell he was so much happier within himself,” Root told the Guardian.
“Just the fact he feels he’s in a place where he’s ready to play cricket again is the most exciting thing,” he added.
The England captain also praised Stokes’s honesty, adding that they made it very clear to him that he has to be in the right space to go and play.
“We made it very clear to Ben, it’s got to be right for you. You have to be in the right space to go and play, physically and mentally. One thing about Ben, he’s very honest, he won’t shirk any difficult conversations and he’s been true to that through the whole thing,” said Root.
“We have been through a lot on and off the field. To see him now back in a place where he is able to enjoy his cricket again and feel more’himself, that’s the best part of the whole thing. It’s just really exciting,” he added.