Test Match Sofa
Durham sweat on Stokes' fitness for T20
By Tim Wellock
Durham are banking on Ben Stokes being fully fit for the start of their Friends Life t20 programme after discovering that Mitchell Johnson will not be available for the group stage of the competition.
After having an injection in his back, which would have allowed him to play a full part in Sunday’s opening Clydesdale Bank 40 match at home to Somerset, Stokes now needs a knee operation. His back problem ruled him out of the England Lions v West Indies match and after suffering a swollen knee he had a scan which revealed a tear in a cartilage.
The ECB have arranged an operation in London next week, underlining their commitment to looking after a player they also sent to the United States last October to have a hand injury repaired after the initial operation was only partially successful.
Stokes is unlikely to play again until June, so he will miss three CB40 matches and the four-day visit of Lancashire, starting on May 30. He should at least be fully fit for the opening Twenty20 match at Headingley on June 15, which is roughly when Johnson will be arriving on these shores with the Australian one-day squad.
After being sidelined by a foot injury since November, Johnson has been recalled to the squad for their one-day series in England and Ireland, which roughly coincides with the English Twenty20 tournament.
Durham coach Geoff Cook said: “It’s very disappointing. We were looking forward to having someone of his stature around. Now we will have to look again at who might be available. It could be a batter or a bowler – it’s more a case of finding someone of the right quality and with so many short tours going on it’s very difficult. It’s a nuisance to have to deal with this at this stage, when we have other issues to address.”
Durham have also signed Herschelle Gibbs for the tournament, but he has been unable to play for Mumbai in the IPL because of a finger injury.
However, Cook said: “We’re not too worried about him. He’s played quite a lot of Twenty20 cricket over the winter and he’s going to arrive here about ten days before our first match so he can acclimatise.”
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