Ben Stokes has given England a welcome boost ahead of this winter's Ashes in Australia by announcing his return to cricket.
The allrounder took time away from the game in the summer to focus on his mental health and have surgery on a finger injury.
Stokes missed the majority of the summer's cricket, including the Test series against India and is currently absent from England's T20 World Cup.
“I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted,” Stokes said.
“I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I’m ready for Australia.”
The Durham player underwent surgery on his finger after suffering an injury while playing in the Indian Premier League but that did not fix the problem and he was left with discomfort in the digit.
Stokes had another operation earlier this month to remove two screws and scar tissue, and has since been seen training back in the nets.
He will now fly out with the rest of the Test squad to Australia on November 4.
Ashley Giles, managing director of England’s men’s cricket, greeted Stokes’ comeback warmly but insisted gradual steps must be taken over the coming weeks to make sure the 30-year-old is as prepared as he can be for an international return.
Giles said: “Following a very successful operation on his finger and several conversations over the last few weeks between Ben and I, our medical staff and his management team, Ben called me to say he was ready to return to cricket and was excited about the prospect of playing a significant role in the Ashes series.
“Time and time again, Ben has demonstrated how important he is to the England team and having him available for the Ashes series is excellent news for all of us and, in particular, Chris, Joe and the rest of the players.
“Having not played for some time, we will move forward cautiously over the next few weeks to ensure he is fully prepared across all facets of his game.
“Ahead of a very busy period of cricket, we continue to remain mindful of the stresses on all our personnel, and our primary focus continues to be the wellbeing of all of our players and support staff.”
England’s first Test against Australia is currently scheduled to start in Brisbane on December 8, with the five-match series concluding in Perth on January 18.