In a press conference on Wednesday, Root was asked if he was confident of Stokes’ availablity for the upcoming Ashes in Australia. The England captain responded by saying that it is of greater priority for him to see Stokes in a better space before the Durham all-rounder returns to action.
‘That’s not a conversation I’m willing to have with Ben (Stokes). Ben will tell us when he is ready, and I think that should be respected by everyone. I’m not going to put any pressure on him.”
“He’s got to look after himself and make sure that he is happy where he is at, before he considers playing cricket again. As far as I’m concerned, I just want him to get himself back to where he used to be.”
Ben Stokes has been out of competitive cricket for a month now. The champion all-rounder last featured for England during the ODI series against Pakistan. Stokes has been grappling with a finger injury he endured during the first leg of IPL 2021 and the loss of his father.
Stokes shocked the cricket world before the Test series against England when he announced that he was taking a sabbatical from the game for an indefinite period. He is all set to miss the upcoming T20 World Cup in the UAE, and there is no update regarding his comeback before the all-important Ashes Down Under this winter.
“Everyone wants to know what’s going on” – Joe Root on the confusion surrounding England’s tour Down Under this winter
There is a lot of confusion regarding England’s tour of Australia later this year. The stringent COVID-19 rules put up by the Australian government means the English players could well spend the Australian summer without their families.
England’s Player Cricket Association and the ECB have firmly backed the players’ reluctance to travel without their families for such a gruelling tour. A final decision is yet to be taken on the same, though.
Root hopes for more clarity on the situation. But the English captain and his players are firmly focussed on the immediate task at hand – beating India at Old Trafford and square the five-match series 2-2. He said in this regard:
‘Yea, I think everyone wants to know what’s going on. The sooner that it can be put forward to us, the better. As players, all we can focus on is this next game.”
“We can keep having good honest conversations at trying to prepare ourselves, and we’ll face it when it comes around. We got to look at now, and make sure we put in a real strong performance here at Old Trafford.”
England need a win in the fifth Test against India in Manchester to avoid losing a Test series at home to India since 2007. If they do not manage to win the game, it will be the first time since 1986 England will end their summer with two Test series defeats at home.