Burns fired by ‘massive boost’ of Stokes return as England arrive in Australia

  • ‘We want to have the best side possible’ says England opener
  • Ashes squad quarantining on Gold Coast after Saturday arrival

Rory Burns has declared Ben Stokes’ return to the England squad as “a massive boost” to their chances of success in the Ashes, but says the sudden announcement that the all-rounder would be on the flight to Australia came as no surprise to him.

After taking time away from the game to recover from finger surgery and prioritise his mental health, Stokes was not initially named in the squad but was added a fortnight later after declaring himself fit and “ready for Australia”. England’s Test specialists arrived on Saturday and are currently quarantining on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

“To get Stokesy back in the side, back in the squad and back around things is obviously a massive boost for us – we know what a good player he is,” said Burns, speaking while isolating in his hotel room. “But I wasn’t actually that surprised. I kind of felt like something was bubbling away.”

“It was nice when I saw it announced and it’s obviously exciting because we want to get out here and have the best side possible, and obviously Ben adds to that in a massive way,” Burns added.

England’s top order has regularly disappointed of late, and across the last three years Burns had played 26 innings with Dom Sibley, seven each with Keaton Jennings and Jason Roy, six with Joe Denly and even two with Jack Leach, none of them averaging more than 28.5. But towards the end of their series against India in late summer, Burns was partnered with Haseeb Hameed, resulting in two century standsfrom three attempts.

“I think me and Has, in weird ways we probably do it slightly differently but as a partnership it was working quite nicely,” Burns said. “We don’t really say too much to each other at various times, but what we did say seemed to go at the right time. It was a nice little partnership developing there, and if we can pick back up where we left off last summer it’ll be a good thing.”

“In recent times we’ve probably not scored as many runs as we’d like, but the challenges that lie ahead in Australia we can almost [anticipate] so preparation is key and we’ll be looking to get that right,” the 31-year-old concluded.

Ben Stokes arrives at Brisbane airport with the rest of England’s travelling Ashes squad.
Ben Stokes arrives at Brisbane airport with the rest of England’s travelling Ashes squad. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Jason Roy, who hobbled off the field during England’s unsuccessful run chase against South Africa at the T20 World Cup on Saturday, has undergone scans on the injury in Dubai. Results are expected on Monday, when a decision will be taken on whether he will remain in the squad or be replaced.

James Vince and Liam Dawson are with the squad as travelling reserves, with the former the obvious choice to step up should Roy be ruled out of the remainder of the tournament as is widely expected.

In Roy’s absence the most likely reorganisation would see Jonny Bairstow, who opens in ODIs and has done so in 15 T20 internationals, move up the order. Bairstow has recently settled at No 4, having batted there in 13 of his last 18 T20 innings, and though he is the obvious choice to start alongside Jos Buttler, doing so effectively destabilises two positions.

The choice then would be between bringing Vince or Sam Billings into the middle order as a specialist batsman, or abandoning the batting-heavy approach England have preferred in their previous games in the tournament and select an extra bowling option.

David Willey would be the obvious choice given his potential contribution with the bat – his average in 203 T20 career matches is 23.73, slightly superior to Billings’ 23.64 in 201 games – but Tom Curran and Reece Topley, who replaced the injured Tymal Mills in the squad last week, are alternatives.


Simon Burnton in Dubai

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Ben Stokes set to return for England in first Ashes Test against Australia
England’s head coach, Chris Silverwood, expects Ben Stokes to return to the side for the first Ashes Test against Australia in Brisbane

Ali Martin in Sydney

05, Dec, 2021 @6:00 PM

Article image
Return of miracle-man Stokes alters complexion of Ashes completely | Tanya Aldred
The addition of Ben Stokes to England’s Ashes squad will lift Joe Root’s men and cause even the most confident of Australians to endure a few sleepless nights

Tanya Aldred

25, Oct, 2021 @7:00 PM

Article image
Stokes and Bairstow show why England are still worth waking up for | Andy Bull
For once on this tour the Ben Stokes who clears bars and empties beds and the Jonny Bairstow of 2016 both turned up

Andy Bull

07, Jan, 2022 @3:00 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes backs Joe Root and says he has ‘no ambition’ to be England captain
The dressing room is fully behind the Test captain said Stokes, who also defended the head coach Chris Silverwood despite England’s Ashes struggles in Australia

Ali Martin in Sydney

02, Jan, 2022 @6:00 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes returns from ‘real dark place’ to make England’s Ashes squad
Ben Stokes has been added to the England men’s Test squad for the Ashes tour of Australia, after finger surgery and a break to ‘prioritise mental wellbeing’

Simon Burnton

25, Oct, 2021 @8:00 AM

Article image
Ashes: Ben Stokes ‘fit to bowl if required’ on third day despite knee issue
Ben Stokes took to the field for the third day at the Gabba after jarring his left knee during day two

Ali Martin

09, Dec, 2021 @11:57 PM

Article image
England cricket capitulations have gone from car-crash to commonplace | Jonathan Liew
The latest Ashes collapse is overly familiar and a backdrop to the beginning of the end for the Stokes-Bairstow-Buttler middle order

Jonathan Liew

26, Dec, 2021 @4:26 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes tries to bring Bodyline back as England toil in second Test | Emma John
The all-rounder was all-action on a day where he took aim at Marnus Labuschagne, but the Australian ended day one on top

Emma John

16, Dec, 2021 @2:52 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes backs Jofra Archer to help England regain Ashes in Australia
‘I don’t think I’ve seen a more talented bowler,’ said Ben Stokes after Jofra Archer took 22 wickets in his first four Tests for England

Ali Martin

16, Sep, 2019 @6:56 PM

Article image
Ben Stokes finds some bowling form as rain abates to let England play
Ben Stokes took 2-31 against the Lions as the weather finally allowed England a full day in the middle to prepare for the first Ashes Test

Ali Martin in Sydney

02, Dec, 2021 @11:01 AM