'His ability to bowl is still a challenge' - Stephen Fleming gives update on Ben Stokes' fitness ahead of Ashes 2023

Ben Stokes only played the first two games for CSK in IPL 2023.

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Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes. (Photo Source: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Star England all-rounder Ben Stokes is still not at his 100% ahead of the Ashes 2023. Stokes, who is part of the Chennai Super Kings in the ongoing IPL 2023, has not played a game since April 3 due to a toe injury. The 31-year-old has been available for selection in the last week but failed to find a spot in the team with all four overseas players’ spots sealed in the CSK playing XI. 

Following CSK’s defeat in their last game against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, May 14 in Chennai, head coach Stephen Fleming revealed that the all-rounder is struggling to bowl at the moment but can come into the playing XI as a batter if needed.

"Ben's ability to bowl overs at the moment is still a bit of a challenge, but he's there as that batting cover. But with Moeen bowling well in good conditions - we go to Delhi [next] which has been turning - we think the balance of the side has been right,” Fleming was quoted as saying ESPNcricinfo.

Fleming further added that since CSK is second on the IPL points table with seven wins from 13 games, the management is not willing to change their playing combination despite their loss in the previous game.

"And look, we're second on the table, so it's not our style to chop and change just because we've had a loss where things didn't go our way. We won't do that. We might tinker with it but we're very focused on getting the right team for Delhi,” he added.

Stokes to leave CSK camp after their last league game against DC

Notably, Stokes featured in just the first two games of CSK’s season. According to an ESPNcricinfo report, the England Test captain will return to the UK after the CSK’s final group game against Delhi on Saturday, May 20 to prepare himself for the only Test against Ireland, to be played at Lord’s from June 1.

The game is being viewed as a preparation for the Ashes where Stokes indicated that he will play the role of the fourth seamer during the all-important series starting from June 16 at Edgbaston. However, there are dark clouds hovering over his bowling fitness ahead of the big series.

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