England Test captain Ben Stokes is set to leave the Indian Premier League (IPL) and return to Europe amid increasing concerns for his Ashes fitness.
The talismanic all-rounder has bowled just one over for the Chennai Super Kings in this year’s franchise competition following a number of injury worries for the 31-year-old.
The Ashes is set to begin next month with England playing just one Test – against Ireland – before the iconic series gets underway.
The injury scare surrounding Stokes adds to worries about the strength of England’s line-up against Australia following a number of setbacks to key players.
Jonny Bairstow stayed home to ensure he was fit for the Ashes and has slowly been returning to play for his county side, Yorkshire, while Jofra Archer has returned from the IPL to recuperate an elbow injury and James Anderson has strained his groin.
England were humiliated in the Ashes last time out, losing 4-0 to a strong Australian outfit Down Under.
The side drew 2-2 in the last home series, which saw Stokes write his name into Ashes folklore by performing miracles at Headingley.
But England are favourites for this year’s Ashes and are said to remain hopeful of Stokes being fit enough to play against Ireland on 1 June with the ball in hand.
Stokes’ side won series against New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan inside an opening 12 months under the Test captain and head coach Brendon McCullum.
The Chennai Super Kings are in a solid position in this year’s IPL to feature in the postseason.