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England captain Ben Stokes not risking fitness for Ashes by playing IPL – Brendon McCullum

Ben Stokes has said he knows the issue with his left knee but will not reveal it in public

England Test captain Ben Stokes is not risking his fitness for this summer’s Ashes against Australia by playing in the Indian Premier League, according to coach Brendon McCullum.

Stokes struggled with his left knee during England’s one-run defeat by New Zealand in the second Test.

The 31-year-old has confirmed he will play for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, which starts on 31 March.

“He knows how to get right for the big moments,” said McCullum.

All-rounder Stokes was only able to bowl two overs in Wellington, then struggled physically while batting on the final day. He scored 33 from 116 balls as England fell agonisingly short of their target of 258 in one of the greatest finishes in Test history.

Stokes said the injury is “incredibly frustrating” and confirmed he knows what the problem is but would not reveal it.

This season will be his first at the IPL since 2021, when he suffered a badly broken finger playing for Rajasthan Royals.

Chennai paid £1.63m for Stokes in December’s auction. He said before the second Test against New Zealand that he planned to miss the end of the IPL in order to prepare for England’s Test against Ireland at Lord’s on 1 June.

Chennai are coached by McCullum’s fellow New Zealander Stephen Fleming and the pair played golf together on Wednesday.

“I’ll be talking to him and making sure he looks after the skipper,” said McCullum, who is a former Chennai player.

“They’re very good. They’ve got a good team and an outstanding leader in Flem. He sees the big picture in everything.

“I’ve no concerns that the skipper will be totally looked after and I also believe that the Ashes is the script that the skipper is waiting to write, so he’ll be sweet.”

England’s first Test in the five-match Ashes series against Australia is at Edgbaston on 16 June.

Australia have held the Ashes since 2018 but have not won in the UK in 22 years. The last series hosted by England was drawn 2-2.

“We have the opportunity to really start to plot and plan and turn our attention to what’s going to be a pretty amazing time in the guys’…

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