Ben Stokes will undergo surgery on his left knee immediately after England’s World Cup campaign with the hope of returning to all-rounder status for the Test tour of India early next year.
The 32-year-old has been hindered by a chronic problem in the joint over the past 18 months and sent down just 29 overs in the summer’s drawn Ashes series, the last of which came during the second Test at Lord’s in June. But having played in this World Cup as a specialist batter with limited success, Stokes is optimistic that surgery scheduled for his return to the UK will allow him to bowl in the daunting five-Test series against India that starts in Hyderabad on 25 January.
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“I will hopefully be fine for the Test series,” said Stokes, speaking before the World Cup group stage match with Australia in Ahmedabad on Saturday. “I am having surgery after the World Cup. I don’t think the surgery is going to have any hindrance on me taking part in the series in India.”
Asked if he regretted coming out of ODI retirement for this World Cup, Stokes said: “I have no regrets whatsoever. Playing a World Cup for your country … if we were in a better position I wouldn’t be asked the question. It is an easy question to ask when things have gone wrong. It was the right decision and I have no regrets whatsoever.”
While the problem is understood to be chronic tendonitis, England’s Test captain has never publicly confirmed this. Even after revealing that surgery is now on the cards, Stokes did not disclose the diagnosis, instead saying that the doctors and physios were speaking in a “language I don’t understand” during recent discussions.
Either way, a rehabilitation period of “five to seven” weeks means Stokes faces a race to recover in time for England’s pre-tour training camp in the United Arab Emirates in mid-January. It may be his return to bowling at full pelt comes mid-series.
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“Obviously it’s been a long time coming and obviously I want to get back to what I’ve been doing prior to the 18 months where I’ve had this injury,” said Stokes. “We’ll just see how everything goes, see how I respond to the surgery and all the rehab as well.
“It’s been a big hindrance on me and affected what I can do for the team. You’d hope that it means that I can get back to doing what I’ve been known for, which is playing a role as a batter, and playing a role as a bowler as well.”
Stokes, who sits three wickets away from 200 in Test cricket, is being operated on by Andy Williams, a specialist knee consultant who has worked across a number of sports. Past clients in cricket include Chris Woakes, who described Williams as “the best” after a battle with knee tendonitis in 2022 that was solved by surgery.