Ben Stokes, the English all-rounder, is set to begin the Indian Premier League (IPL) season as a specialist batter after receiving a cortisone injection to manage his left knee.
Stokes struggled with the problem throughout England’s recent Test series in New Zealand and bowled just two overs during the one-run defeat in Wellington. However, he confirmed his participation in the IPL for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who signed him for around £1.6 million in December.
Stokes, who is also England’s Test captain, is being closely monitored by the ECB’s medical staff, and the Chennai franchise is working with them to ensure he is handled carefully.
Statements on Stokes’ Condition
The franchise’s batting coach, Mike Hussey, who worked with Stokes during England’s T20 World Cup victory in November, stressed that the all-rounder was being handled with care.
Hussey said that Stokes is ready to bat from the start of the tournament, but his bowling would be wait-and-see. Hussey also joked about his partisan interests in the upcoming Ashes series but left no doubt that he wants to play his part in delivering a fully fit Stokes back to England.
Hussey, who is set to lead Welsh Fire in The Hundred later this year, has also held discussions with England’s one-day coach Matthew Mott about reprising his role as batting consultant for the 50-over World Cup in the autumn.
Other Players in the IPL
England’s Test coach, Brendon McCullum, has also said he is confident that the Chennai franchise will manage Stokes’ workload appropriately ahead of this summer’s Ashes.
Of course, Stokes isn’t the only England player participating in the IPL, with fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood also in action for Mumbai Indians and Lucknow Super Giants, respectively.
The challenge for England’s medical staff will be to monitor their workloads during the tournament, ensuring they’re fully fit for the upcoming Test series against Ireland.
Stokes’ Future in the IPL
While Stokes is still in the middle of recovery, there are reports of Stokes being groomed as a potential long-term captain for the franchise.
While CSK is undoubtedly invested in Stokes’ fitness in the short term, sources suggest that the franchise is also looking at the bigger picture.
With MS Dhoni entering the twilight of his career and Ravindra Jadeja’s stint as captain during the previous season falling short, CSK is said to be considering Stokes as a potential successor to the veteran wicket-keeper.
But for now, the focus is on getting Stokes fully fit and back to all-rounder status before the Ashes.
What to Expect with the CSK in the IPL
Despite the IPL final being just four days before England’s Test summer against Ireland at Lord’s on June 1, Stokes has already said he will likely leave the tournament early to allow himself sufficient preparation time at home.
Chennai Super Kings will begin their IPL campaign against the Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad on Friday. Stokes’ fans will be watching with great anticipation to see him make an impact in the tournament as a specialist batter.