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Stokes set for Blast-off

By Rob Barnett

Ben Stokes’ recovery from a broken wrist is on course and he could well make his comeback in the NatWest T20 Blast, which was launched today at Edgbaston.

The Durham and England all-rounder fractured the joint when he struck a dressing-room locker following his cheap dismissal in the Twenty20 international with West Indies on March 13.

Having consequently been ruled out of what would have been his first World Twenty20, Stokes underwent surgery soon after sustaining the injury.

The 22-year-old is seeing a specialist on May 12 with a view to returning for England’s summer contests versus Sri Lanka and India.

He is most likely to make his comeback for Durham, possibly in their T20 Blast opener on May 16 when the Jets host the similarly newly-named, Worcestershire Rapids.

Speaking at Edgbaston today, Stokes said his recovery is “coming on strong.”

He continued: “I’m back in the gym getting myself fit. There’s no date set for a comeback.  

“It’s just a matter of time and how it feels and when I can get back in the nets. I see a specialist again on the 12th of next month.”

Stokes, a high achiever in a disappointing winter for England, fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist.

His good progress means he may play in England’s limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, although the first Twenty20 international on May 20 could come too soon.

“At the moment it seems to be going really well; no signs to say I'll be out for longer than anticipated,” he added.

“I haven't ruled myself out of anything England-wise. Whenever I do get back on the field I have to make sure I find some form and make sure I'm in the selectors' thoughts.”

Ben Stokes grew considerably in all forms of the game during a highly-testing winter for England in Australia and the Caribbean

Durham will be selfishly hoping to have Stokes available for as much of the season as possible.

While he will no doubt want to retain the LV= County Championship crown, some one-day silverware would not go amiss.

Durham reached the quarter-finals of last year’s Twenty20 tournament, only to lose to eventual winners Northants Steelbacks in the last eight.

“We always seem to be there or thereabouts,” he said. “We managed to scrape through last year to the quarters and unfortunately got beat by Northants.

“When we play well as a team we can be very good. We can score big totals and bowl other teams out for little totals.”

Unlike its predecessor, the T20 Blast will be mainly played on Friday evenings, rather than in a mid-summer block, with the teams being split into two groups rather than three.

“There should be more crowds coming in to watch,” Stokes added. 

“With it being spaced out more it will give teams more time to prepare. You have to come to terms with switching between formats.”

Stokes was speaking ahead of the start of the NatWest T20 Blast season. Blast off is Friday 16 May. Tickets can be purchased from www.ecb.co.uk/natwestt20blast

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