Ben Stokes left out of Chennai Super Kings side despite return to fitness

Ben Stokes left out of Chennai Super Kings side despite return to fitness

Fit-again Ben Stokes was overlooked by Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday, extending his time on the Indian Premier League sidelines beyond five weeks.

The England Test captain was signed by CSK for a bumper £1.6million but has appeared in just two of their 12 fixtures.

He arrived managing a longstanding condition in his left knee following a flare-up during February’s tour of New Zealand and also picked up a toe complaint which has kept him out of action since April 3.

The all-rounder’s fitness is being closely monitored by the England and Wales Cricket Board ahead of this summer’s Ashes and it is understood he is now cleared to play. CSK tweeted a video of him batting in the nets on Tuesday, showing the 31-year-old striking powerfully down the ground and captioned ‘freeing up those big arms’.

Yet despite his price tag, status and player-of-the-match showing in last year’s T20 World Cup final, he was left out of the squad to face Delhi Capitals.

CSK went into the game in second place and opted to stick with an overseas unit comprising Stokes’ fellow Englishman Moeen Ali, New Zealander Devon Conway and Sri Lankan spinner Maheesh Theekshana.

Conditions at the Chepauk Stadium have been conducive to slow bowlers, which may have stacked the deck in favour of Moeen and Theekshana, as well as Kiwi left-armer Mitchell Santner, who was named among the impact substitutes.

Moeen Ali (right) held on to his overseas slot despite the return to fitness of Stokes (left).
Moeen Ali (right) held on to his overseas slot despite the return to fitness of Stokes (left) (PA Wire)

Speaking ahead of the match head coach Mike Hussey said: “Stokes has been training really well. I am pretty sure that he is available for selection. It just comes down to the balance of the squad.

“Obviously, we have been playing in sort of spinning conditions, so they have decided to go for the extra spin-bowling option rather than Stokes, an all-rounder who can bowl seam.”

Stokes, who plans to leave the tournament ahead of the knockout phase to captain England’s summer curtain-raiser against Ireland from June 1-4, has made 15 runs in two innings and bowled a single over since arriving in India.

England fans may be more than happy to see that unexpectedly light workload continue, given the irreplaceable role he plays as batter, bowler and leader. He has overseen 10 wins from 12 games since taking the Test captaincy from Joe Root last year, reinvigorating the side in tandem with head coach Brendon McCullum.