County Championship 2022 – Ben Stokes out for a month as ECB play down injury concerns

Ben Stokes’ return to the County Championship has been put on hold for at least the rest of the month, after England’s allrounder underwent a scan on his left knee in the wake of last month’s Test tour of the Caribbean.

Stokes was visibly troubled by the long-standing injury during England’s 1-0 series loss, but nevertheless was England’s most-used seamer in the course of the three Tests. Despite suggestions that he would be eased back into action after struggling with a side strain in Australia, he sent down 99 overs for his seven wickets, including 41 in the series opener in Antigua, his heaviest workload since 2016.

Having opted out of the IPL auction in a bid to redouble his focus on England’s waning Test fortunes, Stokes’ intention had been to play several early-season fixtures for Durham, before the Test series against New Zealand gets underway on June 2.

“I think it was pretty obvious that I was struggling with my knee a bit out in the Caribbean,” Stokes said. “At the moment there is no training. So I will go and get the scans and then we can find out what’s going on, and then hopefully can make a plan from there.”

In a short statement on Friday, the ECB confirmed that the scan had taken place, but played down the long-term significance of the findings.

“Ben had a scan on his left knee which didn’t reveal anything new,” a spokesperson said. “We had planned for him to return to LV= Insurance County Championship cricket in early May and, while he is feeling tender in the knee, that plan remains the same following the scan. We’ll continue to manage him in conjunction with Durham.”

Assuming there are no further complications, Stokes’ return could be earmarked for Durham’s visit to Worcestershire on May 5, or their home fixture against Glamorgan the following week. Durham then take on Middlesex at Lord’s on May 19, before the start of the T20 Blast, and England’s preparation for the New Zealand series.

England’s Test captain, Joe Root, is also due to miss the early weeks of the season as he rests up after the stresses of England’s winter campaigns in Australia and West Indies. It is thought that he may return to action for Yorkshire on April 28, when they take on Kent at Headingley.

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