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Ben Stokes 'wants to play' fifth Test but decision still to be made

Allrounder prepared to play through pain again but will wait to see how side strain responds to treatment

Ben Stokes holds his side and grimaces, Australia vs England, Men's Ashes, 4th Test, 5th day, Sydney, January 9, 2022

Ben Stokes holds his side and grimaces while batting at the SCG  •  Getty Images

Ben Stokes has said he wants to play in the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart but admitted his availability to feature as a specialist batter would depend on how his side strain responded to treatment, with the potential to do further damage ahead of England's Test tour to the West Indies in March.
Stokes suffered a "low grade tear" while bowling in Australia's first innings in Sydney, but played on through the pain, scoring half-centuries in each innings as England fought their way to a draw - thus ending any prospect of being whitewashed 5-0 for the third time in 15 years.
England saw a number of players sustain injuries over the course of five days at the SCG, the most serious being a finger fracture that has ruled Jos Buttler out of the final Test. Jonny Bairstow took a blow on the thumb on the way to scoring a first-innings hundred, with his fitness to play in Hobart also to be assessed.
All three played their part in helping England get through the final day: Stokes scoring 60 off 123 balls, Bairstow 41 off 105 and Buttler 11 off 38.
Writing in his newspaper column three days out from the fifth Test, Stokes said he couldn't say "definitively" if he would be involved.
"The big question now is whether I can play in the final game as a batsman or not," he wrote in the Mirror. "I'm not going to say definitively just yet because there are still a few days to go and we need to see how I respond to the treatment, but what I will say is that I want to play.
"If it is a question of playing through a bit of pain, I know it is not going to be as bad as it was in Sydney and I got through that okay. But there are other things to consider such as the West Indies tour to come and the likelihood of doing more damage."
Stokes came into the Sydney Test with a top-score of 34 from six innings, but found some form with the bat after being forced off midway through an over on the second day. He stayed on the field, despite the injury, to ensure he would not have to give up his spot at No. 5.
"I've never had a side strain before but when I bowled the ball that caused the low grade tear, it must be what surgery without the anaesthetic feels like, it was agony," Stokes said. "As painful as it was, amazingly it is not the most pain that I have been in on a cricket field. That will always belong to my broken finger, but this comes a close second.
"The medics and Graham Thorpe suggested perhaps I shouldn't field, but I felt I needed to be out there to give some support to the team especially when the bowlers were having to step up and bowl my overs."
Stokes suffered the strain after being brought on for a sustained spell of short-pitched bowling, but denied England's choice of tactics contributed to situation.
"Some people might have an issue with the type of bowling, but it could happen bowling normally and I can't start worrying about getting injured, otherwise I'm not doing my job properly. Anytime you bowl in a Test match there is a risk of injury."