Australian batter Steve Smith has given his thumbs up to England all-rounder Ben Stokes for making a successful return to the side for the Ashes tour beginning next month, saying it’s great to “have him on the plane” after taking time off to focus on mental health.
Stokes had taken an indefinite break to focus on his mental health and also tend to an injured finger. But recently, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that that charismatic all-rounder would be available for the full Ashes tour, which begins with The Gabba Test on December 8.
While Stokes’ inclusion will make the touring party much stronger, Smith said it’s always good to play against “quality performers”.
“I think it (Stokes’ inclusion) is great,” Smith said on SEN 1170 Drive on Wednesday. “Obviously, he took a step back and was struggling with a few things mentally. Credit to him for being able to step away from the game and ensure he gets that right.
“I think it’s great that he’s on the plane, you want to be coming up against quality performers and ‘Stokesy’ is certainly that. We only have to look back to Headingley a few years ago, that knock was simply outstanding. It’s great to see him on the plane, yeah, I’m glad he’s going okay,” added Smith.
Stokes had rattled Australia during the 2019 Ashes series, scoring two hundreds and averaging 55.12 with the bat. He also took eight wickets.