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NASSER HUSSAIN: It’s great news that Ben Stokes is back for the ashes – it’s the heartbeat of England.

NASSER HUSSAIN: It’s GREAT news that Ben Stokes is back … He’s the heart of England and Captain Joe Root will be delighted that his talisman feels ready to join the Ashes tour.

  • England star Ben Stokes has returned from a three-month hiatus from the sport
  • The 30-year-old off-road talisman was taking a break to monitor his mental health
  • Stokes was also resting a broken finger that is now recovering again.
  • The news of his return in time for the Ashes series is a huge boost for England.


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This is great news for Joe Root, the England team and all the cricket fans who want to see the best version of the best in Australia this winter. But more importantly, this is great news for Ben Stokes.

It means that his finger is improving and it is also a very good sign that he is in a mentally healthy place because we know that the last few months have been a battle for him.

The clues have been there. The moment Ben posted a photo of himself holding a bat, I thought, ‘Okay, he’s not doing that because he’s thinking about Durham in April. You must have something else in mind. ‘ As he himself said, he is ready for Australia.

It’s great news that Ben Stokes is back in the England team ahead of the winter Ashes series.

Captain Joe Root (left) will be delighted that the off-road talisman is back in dispute.

Captain Joe Root (left) will be delighted that the off-road talisman is back in dispute.

Captain Joe Root (left) will be delighted that the off-road talisman is back in dispute.

Former England captain and Sportsmail Hussain columnist (pictured) voiced his thoughts on Stokes' sudden return to the England team.

Former England captain and Sportsmail Hussain columnist (pictured) voiced his thoughts on Stokes' sudden return to the England team.

Former England captain and Sportsmail Hussain columnist (pictured) voiced his thoughts on Stokes’ sudden return to the England team.

The only surprise is that Stokes will be there from the start. I thought he would join the team at some point, but it is an unexpected advantage that he is at the Gabba.

Stokes is absolutely vital to the England team. Joining the Ashes team will cheer everyone up. It’s not just his immense contribution on the bat, on the ball, and on the field, but his mere presence.

He is the heartbeat of that team and suddenly England’s hopes of succeeding in the series have dramatically improved. Stokes is the best team man and the England players will be delighted to have him back.

This is the toughest tour of all and Root will be much stronger for having his vice-captain alongside him. It’s Stokes and Jos Buttler who Root relies on most in his decision-making and those three set the tone for the team in everything they do.

Big characters are needed in Australia more than anywhere else. You need players who stand up to the Australians, who can look them in the eye and not step back in a hostile environment.

When you’ve lost nine of your last 10 tests in Australia, as England has, they need their biggest character on this tour more than ever.

Australia won’t need to remember what Stokes can do, that’s for sure. He did a century against them in Perth when he was first emerging, and Australia’s tough shots should fit his game again now.

But most significantly, it gave us the best day many of us have ever had on a cricket ground with that Headingley miracle two years ago.

The World Cup final earlier that summer was extraordinary and Stokes played a big role in that. But it was a team thing. What he did later that golden summer in the ashes was the best solo exhibition I have ever seen to win a test match.

Jack Leach (left) will be pleased;  having Stokes as the fifth bowler makes his inclusion more likely

Jack Leach (left) will be pleased;  having Stokes as the fifth bowler makes his inclusion more likely

Jack Leach (left) will be pleased; having Stokes as the fifth bowler makes his inclusion more likely

Broken fingers heal, but mental health is more difficult to assess and England must make sure they look after Stokes more than ever when he arrives in Australia.

Now that he leaves with the team on November 4, he will go directly to quarantine, although not strict, and will return to another bubble. He is also back in a hotel room and England will have to keep an eye on his situation at all times. They will, they have been very steadfast in pastoral care during the pandemic.

The other person who will probably have a huge smile on his face at this news is Jack Leach because without Stokes it is very difficult for England to balance the side and include a roulette wheel.

England will hope Stokes can inspire them again at The Ashes as he did at Headingley in 2019.

England will hope Stokes can inspire them again at The Ashes as he did at Headingley in 2019.

England will hope Stokes can inspire them again at The Ashes as he did at Headingley in 2019.

They would have gone with six batters, one goalie on seven, and four pitchers and I don’t think one of them would have been a spinner for most of the Tests.

Now, Stokes can hit at six and be the fifth pitcher with Buttler at seven and then four more players. It doesn’t mean that Leach will always play because England have sometimes gone away with five spikes, but he has to increase his chances.

The hope now is that Stokes is refreshed and ready to go because the last few years of extreme ups and downs have clearly taken their toll. And all the cricket will be better for his return.

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