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Ben Stokes allays knee-injury fears after sharp display in Adelaide nets

England allrounder hits captain Root on helmet as he targets improvement in second Test

Ben Stokes bends his back in the nets, England training, The Ashes, Adelaide, December 14, 2021

Ben Stokes bends his back in the nets  •  AFP/Getty Images

Ben Stokes has allayed concerns about the knee injury that hampered his bowling at Brisbane last week, after coming through an energetic nets session at Adelaide ahead of Thursday's second Ashes Test.
Stokes, 30, bowled just 12 overs in England's nine-wicket defeat in the series opener, and was in obvious discomfort during his latter spells after appearing to jar his knee while chasing a ball to the boundary.
However, he was back to full pace in the Adelaide nets on Tuesday, where he bowled for an hour under the supervision of head coach, Chris Silverwood, and also struck England's captain Joe Root on the helmet and the arm in a lively display.
"We will find out over the next couple of days," Root had said before the net session. "He obviously had a bit of a jar in his knee in the last game. Hopefully it's something he's shaken off now, and he can get back to full intensity and all options are on the table. We will have to manage that and see where we are at."
Writing in his column for the Mirror, Stokes confirmed that his knee had affected him at Brisbane, but also that it was not a new issue that had arisen during the match.
"People will have seen me rubbing my knee from time to time when I was in the field, but rest assured I'm fine," he wrote. "It is an old injury that flares up every now and again, but I know how to manage it.
"It just gets a little bit uncomfortable every now and again in and around my cartilage. But it just looks worse than it is by the way I try and get off it as soon as I can."
The contest was Stokes' first Test appearance since the tour of India in February, and his first competitive fixture since taking a lengthy break during the English season to manage his mental health in the wake of a badly broken finger. He made scores of 5 and 14 in his two innings, and also reprieved David Warner with a no-ball, after over-stepping while bowling him in Australia's first innings.
"Having a long break is going to show itself I guess, but there are no excuses from me," Stokes added. "I didn't do anything whatsoever except take a catch and bowl a few no-balls, so the one positive is that I probably can't get much worse than that."
Stokes' ability to play as a frontline seamer is crucial to England's hopes of balancing their attack, and may offer a reprieve to the spinner Jack Leach, whose 13 overs were hit for 102 runs in the first Test. His selection for that match was described by the former England left-armer Phil Tufnell as a "hospital pass".
England's hopes of squaring the series at Adelaide may also be boosted by the impending recall of James Anderson, who claimed his first five-wicket haul in Australia in the corresponding day-night fixture four years ago, and who bowled for 40 minutes in the nets after sitting out the opening match.
England have lost ten of their last 11 Tests in Australia, and have not won in the country since their victorious tour of 2010-11. No England team has bounced back from an opening Test defeat Down Under since Len Hutton's men in 1954-55, but Stokes remains confident that they can buck the trend.
"We have a good track record of bouncing back pretty well after a defeat early in a series," Stokes added in his column. "We came back against South Africa to win, we came back against the West Indies last year to win, so we've done it before and we can do it again.
"Now is not the time to panic. It is about keeping a clear head and staying calm and making sure that our cricket is at the level we want it to be.