By India Today Sports Desk: England Test captain Ben Stokes has no issues with his Australian cricketers playing county cricket ahead of the Ashes. Australia middle-order batters Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne have been playing in the county set up for the last two months to acclimatise themselves to the English conditions ahead of the World Test Championship Final and the Ashes series. Stokes in an interview with Nasser Hussain said that he welcomed the move of global stars in county cricket and that it would not affect the result of the series.
“I’ve got absolutely no issue with it whatsoever. Marcus North (Durham director of cricket) messaged me and said: ‘Is it OK if we sign an Australian?’ and I said, ‘Mate, it’s absolutely fine. Don’t worry.’ It’s great for our game if you get international players coming over. Why would you not want superstar players representing our counties? When it comes to the Ashes I don’t think it will make any difference,” Stokes said in an interview published in Daily Mail.
“Steve Smith could have got four ducks in a row for Sussex but we all know he could still then get 700 runs in the Ashes,” he further added.
The all-rounder has not bowled in Test cricket since the series against New Zealand in 2022/23 due to a knee injury. In fact, he barely bowled in the Indian Premier League 2023 and spent a long time conditioning his knee. The captain said that he was frustrated with the fact that he could not fulfill his role as the fourth pacer.
“It’s been a very frustrating year bowling with this knee problem and not being able to fulfill my role as fourth seamer properly. I’ve worked so hard to get to the point where, touch wood, I can bowl pain free. I’ve had a little bit of help from some cortisone injections, but everything is going nicely, and I won’t rush it because the priority is making sure I can fulfill that role as fourth seamer in the Ashes,” Stokes said on his injury.