After quarantine, the rain. Ben Stokes’ return will have to wait after day one of an internal trial match between England teams was washed out two weeks before the opening test of the Ashes series. (More Cricket News)
The star allrounder arrived at Redlands Cricket Club in Brisbane’s bayside suburbs on Tuesday ready to play for England for the first time since July in a three-day tour match against the second-string Lions squad.
He didn’t get a chance.
England openers Haseeb Hameed (53 not out) and Rory Burns (38 not out) put on an unbeaten 98 before persistent showers resulted in stumps being called well ahead of schedule.
Stokes, who is due to bat at No. 5 behind captain Joe Root, spent the lunch break practising his bowling. He was only added to England’s squad last month after recovering from a finger injury and from taking time away to prioritize his mental health.
The three-day game in the Redlands is the first of two warmups for England ahead of the five-test series against Australia, which starts Dec. 8 at the Gabba.
Stokes was in the first group of England cricketers who arrived in Brisbane on Nov. 6 to begin a 14-day quarantine at a luxury Gold Coast resort. The remainder of the squad, including Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler, arrived following a semifinal exit at the Twenty20 World Cup.
Australia holds the Ashes, having beaten England in Australia in 2017-18 and retaining the urn when the 2019 series in England was drawn.
The Australians are coming off a victory in the Twenty20 World Cup in Dubai but have had limited preparation for long-form cricket and are uncertain over who will lead the test team.
Tim Paine quit last Friday after News Corp. reported that he was investigated for sending explicit text messages to a female co-worker four years ago, before he was recalled to the Australian test team for the first time in seven years.
Paine was exonerated following an investigation by cricket administrators in 2018 but said he didn’t want the scandal to become “an unwelcome disruption to the team ahead of what is a huge Ashes series.”
Australia will play an internal trial from Dec. 1-3, giving Paine a chance to prove his fitness as a first-choice wicketkeeper.