England’s Ben Stokes will undergo knee surgery after the World Cup in a bid cure his longstanding fitness problems and prolong his career.
Concerns over the Test captain’s left knee have increased over the last 18 months and he has not bowled in a match since July, his body unable to cope with the rigours of bowling.
Stokes suggested he was considering an operation after this summer’s Ashes series, which he laboured through in visible discomfort, but instead chose to come out of ODI retirement and take part in England’s title defence in India.
He missed the first three games of the campaign with a left hip injury, which has not explicitly been linked to his existing problems and, with England set to bow out after the group stages, Stokes has agreed to go under the knife.
He will see renowned knee surgeon Andy Williams – who counts Stokes’ team-mate Chris Woakes, former England captain Andrew Flintoff and a host of Premier League footballers among his previous clients – later this month.
Stokes hopes to be ready to lead England’s Test tour of India, which starts in Hyderabad on January 25 following a two-week training camp in Dubai.
Speaking on the eve of his side’s clash with Ashes rivals Australia in Ahmedabad, he said: “I am having surgery after the World Cup. There was a lot of time put into deciding when to get it done.
“It’s been a long time coming and obviously I want to get back to what I’ve been doing prior to the 18 months where I’ve had this injury. It’s been a big hindrance on me and affected what I can do for the team.
“Obviously that’s what I want to be doing. You’d hope that it means that I can get back to doing what I’ve been known for, which is playing a role as a batter and playing a role as a bowler as well.
“We’ll just see how everything goes, see how I respond to the surgery and all the rehab as well.”
Stokes had a flare up during the short tour of New Zealand in February and struggled to get match fit for Chennai Super Kings during the IPL. He subsequently played all five Ashes Tests but did not bowl in the last three.
He has spoken several times of his frustrations at not being able to impact the game with the ball and is eager to reclaim his status as an all-action all-rounder.
Stokes has never revealed the precise diagnosis of his knee injury, but chronic tendonitis is thought to be possible.
“When we go to those meetings we generally take a physio and doctor and they start talking, using language I’ve never heard before,” Stokes added. “I just turn up, go to sleep, wake up and hope it is better.
“I’ll switch off and let Andy Williams, the surgeon, do what he does best which is fix knees.”
He was more forthcoming about his use of an inhaler during training sessions in India, revealing it was down to “exercise induced asthma” and not directly linked to high pollution levels in the country.
Turning his attention to matters at hand, Stokes had a blunt assessment of England’s dire showing at the World Cup – a competition which drew him back in after a year away from ODIs – but has not lived up to expectations.
“I think the problem is that we’ve been crap, to be honest with you,” he said.
“We’ve had a disastrous World Cup and there’s no point sugarcoating that because it’s the truth. We have been crap. Everything we’ve tried throughout this World Cup, it’s just not worked.
“We know that as individuals and as a team, I think that’s where it is as a team, we’ve been nowhere near good enough to be able to compete in a World Cup.
“I think the biggest thing that we’ve got to play for is the pride of what it is to put the three lions on your chest.
“England and Australia in any sport, whenever the two nations come together and play against each other, it’s always a big occasion.”