Cricket-Stokes likely to start IPL as specialist batter, says Hussey

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Third Test - Pakistan v England - National Stadium - Karachi, Pakistan - December 16, 2022. England's Ben Stokes addresses a news conference following the practice session. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

(Reuters) - England captain Ben Stokes is set to start his Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign with the Chennai Super Kings as a specialist batter after having an injection in his troublesome left knee, the team's batting coach Mike Hussey said.

With the Ashes series against Australia less than three months away the all-rounder had a cortisone injection, which can help relieve pain and inflammation, before the start of the IPL season.

The knee issue has long bothered Stokes, 31, and it had him grimacing in pain throughout the drawn two-test series with New Zealand. He bowled only two overs in England's one-run defeat in the second test.

"My understanding is he's ready to go as a batsman from the start. The bowling might be wait and see," former Australia batter Hussey told cricket news website Cricinfo on Tuesday.

"I know he had his first very light bowl this week since he had his injections in his knee. The physios from Chennai and the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) are working pretty closely together.

"My understanding is he won't be bowling much at all in the first few games of the tournament ... it might be a few weeks. I'm not 100% sure, (but we will) hopefully get him bowling at some stage in the tournament."

Stokes has already said he will leave the IPL early to prepare for a one-off test against Ireland at Lord's from June 1 and the first Ashes test at Edgbaston, which starts on June 16.

Four-times champions Chennai will face defending champions Gujarat Titans in the IPL season-opener on Friday.

(Reporting by Pearl Josephine Nazare in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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