England star Ben Stokes has declared himself "fit and hungry for a big series" ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia next week.
Stokes was a late addition to England's Ashes squad, having taken an indefinite break from cricket over the summer to prioritise his mental wellbeing and recovery from a finger injury.
The all-rounder has not played a competitive game since July and suffered an injury scare in the nets after getting floored by a ball from batting coach Jonathan Trott.
Writing in his Mirror Sport column, Stokes revealed that he initially thought he had broken his arm, saying: "I was in agony, and I couldn’t lift it thereafter.
"I thought it was broken. Thankfully the pain and reaction settled down once I was back in the dressing room and the physios could be sure it wasn’t actually a break."
However, Stokes appears to have come through the incident unscathed, with captain Joe Root saying: "To see Ben get hit like that was obviously a scare – we all know how crucial he is within our squad.
"But he seems to have come through it pretty well and practised again today. We'll keep assessing and making sure that it doesn't have a prolonged effect on him."
In a post on Instagram showcasing some of his preparation with both bat and ball, Stokes wrote: "Don’t call it a comeback.
"Spent some time testing out the finger with @adidasLondon last month. 2 months ago, I couldn’t hold a bat. With 1 week to go till the first test, I’m fit and hungry for a big series down under!"
Jack Leach is confident that Stokes' return to the side means he is more likely to get selected as England's frontline spinner.
"Stokesy being back is a great boost for all of us, in terms of the balance it really helps things out and is probably good news for the spin department," Leach said.
"From the summer the feedback was that Stokesy not being in the side, having that all-round option in the top order, made it difficult for me to get into the side."
"Over the summer not playing I was thinking about this series so I feel like preparations have been ongoing and now it's about getting out there and doing it."
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