Cricket-England all-rounder Stokes added to Ashes squad

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Third One Day International - England v Pakistan - Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham, Britain - July 13, 2021 England's Ben Stokes Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes

(Reuters) -England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been added to the squad for the Ashes tour of Australia which starts in December, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Monday.

Stokes had taken an indefinite break from cricket in July to focus on his mental health, while also recovering from a second operation on a broken finger, and was not included in coach Chris Silverwood's initial squad for the series.

However, the ECB said in a statement that the 30-year-old had received the green light to resume training and would leave for Australia on Nov. 4.

"I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted," said Stokes, who has played 71 tests for England. "I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I'm ready for Australia."

The five-test Ashes series is due to begin in Brisbane on Dec. 8. Australia retained the Ashes when the teams last met in 2019 in England after a 2-2 series draw.

Stokes last played a test match in March against India and was not considered for selection for the current Twenty20 World Cup, where England defeated defending champions West Indies L1N2RJ0BC in their opening match.

Stokes wrote in his column for Monday's Daily Mirror that he was "buzzing" ahead of the Ashes.

"I know I can focus again on playing my best cricket Down Under this winter," Stokes wrote. "I probably didn't realise just how much of an issue the finger was causing me until I got it sorted the second time around."

Stokes said that he was also struggling with bubble fatigue, adding he was in a "dark place" with difficult thoughts.

He said talking to his wife, England captain Joe Root and professionals had helped him.

"I was always one of those people who wouldn't talk about how they're feeling and just keep it internal and crack on," he said. "I now realise talking is such a powerful thing and it has completely changed me."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai, Manasi Pathak and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Peter Rutherford and Ken Ferris)

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