England head coach Brendon McCullum believes the upcoming IPL will not ”jeopardise” Ben Stokes’ Ashes return and expressed faith in Chennai Super Kings’ medical team to look after the premier all-rounder.
Struggling with a recurring left knee injury, the English skipper bowled only nine overs in the two-Test series against New Zealand. He also looked in pain during his knock of 33 in their dramatic one-run defeat here.
”I don’t think he’s jeopardising it (by playing the IPL). The Chennai set-up is excellent in looking after their players and they’ve a very good medical team and he will be well looked after,” McCullum was quoted saying in ESPNCricinfo.
”The skipper has a strong mind and he knows how to get right for the big moments. His life is that, right? So I don’t have any concerns.” Stokes was the third most expensive buy at the IPL 2023 auction, where CSK snapped him for Rs 16.25 crore.
The most lucrative franchise league is set to get underway on March 31 with CSK taking on defending champion Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad. The tournament will conclude on May 28, while the five-Test Ashes will begin at Edgbaston on June 16. The Stokes-led England would be looking to reclaim the series for the first time since 2015.
England’s Ashes winners Michael Vaughan and Steve Harmison, however, have urged Stokes not to play in the IPL.
But McCullum looked at the bigger picture and said Stokes would be keen to write the ”Ashes script”.
”In fact I look forward to watching him play in it and see, without captaincy as well, the opportunity to play cricket without worrying about everybody else, knowing when he comes back into the fold and leads us into the Ashes campaign he’ll have the bit between his teeth and I think we’ll be alright,” said the coach. ”He sees the big picture in everything, so 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.”