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Ben Stokes undergoes second finger operation with Ashes involvement still in doubt

Long-term prospects boosted after operation to remove scar tissue from injured digit

Ben Stokes calls the shots as England's interim captain, England vs Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Lord's, July 10, 2021

Ben Stokes was England's interim captain in his last international appearance  •  Getty Images

Ben Stokes has undergone a second finger operation that looks set to rule him out of the Ashes, but may yet hasten his return to action in the long term.
Stokes, who has been on indefinite leave since pulling out of this summer's Test series against India, sustained a severe break of his left index finger while attempting a catch for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL in April.
And according to the Daily Mirror, the same surgeon who operated on the original injury - Leeds-based consultant Doug Campbell - reassessed Stokes' finger on Monday, removing the metal screws from the now-healed digit, but also addressing the scar tissue that the paper said had been causing "searing" pain around Stokes' tendons and ligaments.
Stokes made an abortive return to action this summer, playing for Durham in the T20 Blast in June before an unexpected call-up for the ODI series against Pakistan in July - when England's entire white-ball squad was forced into isolation due to a Covid outbreak.
Stokes was asked to lead a scratch side that featured nine uncapped players, and even guided England to a remarkable 3-0 series win. However, he required a painkilling injection to get through the contests, and he also seemed troubled by his finger during his two appearances for Northern Superchargers in the inaugural season of the Hundred.
He has not played in any form of the game since July 26, after announcing that he would be stepping away from cricket for an indefinite period to focus on his mental wellbeing, and to allow his finger a sustained period of downtime to heal fully.
Last month, Stokes was omitted from England's 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup in the UAE, and with the Ashes negotiations expected to reach a decisive moment this week, he is almost certain to miss that trip too - having also missed the 2017-18 Ashes tour in the aftermath of the Bristol nightclub incident.
However, according to The Mirror, the early indications are that Stokes' latest finger surgery has been a "huge success", and if that proves to be the case, then he may be better placed to focus on the rest of his comeback.
The ECB has since confirmed the details of Stokes' procedure, adding that he will now "undergo an intensive period of rehabilitation for the next four weeks under the supervision of the ECB's medical team". The first Ashes Test is due to get underway at Brisbane on December 8, in just over two months' time.
On Wednesday, Stokes posted a photo on Instagram for the first time since July, posing with his wife Clare with his finger heavily bandaged.