England skipper Stokes set to start IPL as batsman only: Hussey

LONDON: England Test captain Ben Stokes is set to begin the Indian Premier League (IPL) as a batsman only after having a cortisone injection in his troublesome left knee ahead of the Ashes, according to Mike Hussey.

Stokes was signed by the Chennai Super Kings for an impressive fee of $1.96 million in December.

But the star all-rounder was not fully fit during England’s recent tour of New Zealand, and after bowling just two overs in a dramatic one-run defeat in the second Test in Wellington the 31-year-old said: “I’m not going to lie, it’s incredibly frustrating knowing something has been holding me back from performing as I’d like to.”

England and Wales Cricket Board medical staff have been working closely with their Chennai counterparts to manage Stokes’ workload ahead of the five-Test Ashes series against Australia in England starting in June.

Super Kings batting coach Hussey, who worked with Stokes during England’s victorious T20 World Cup campaign in November, said he would be looked after in the latest edition of the T20 extravaganza IPL starting Friday.

“The physios from Chennai and the ECB are working pretty closely together,” former Australia batsman Hussey, 47, told Britain’s PA news agency and ESPNcricinfo.

“He (Stokes) is ready to go as a batsman from the start, the bowling might be wait and see. I know he had his first very light bowl this week since he had his injections in his knee.

“My understanding is he won’t be bowling much at all in the first few games of the tournament, or it might be a few weeks, I’m not 100 percent sure. But hopefully, we’ll get him bowling at some stage in the tournament.”

Hussey, who played in 79 Tests, jokingly referenced Stokes’s importance to England in the Ashes by saying: “From an Australian perspective, I’m going to hope he bowls 20 or 30 overs in nets.

“We’ll be running him into the ground and I’ll be making sure he does extra weight sessions and run-throughs to put pressure on that body.

“I’m joking obviously,” insisted Hussey who will be in charge of the Welsh Fire during English domestic cricket’s Hundred competition later this year.

“I want a fit Ben Stokes playing his best cricket at the Ashes. I want both teams at their best, going hard at it and I think it will be an unbelievable series to watch.

“He’s going to be huge for us (at Chennai) too, particularly if we can get him bowling.”

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