Ben Stokes enjoying with his England teammates on return (Image courtesy: Getty)
Ben Stokes enjoying with his England teammates on return (Image courtesy: Getty)

Ben Stokes is back in the greens, in his England blues and training alongside his teammates for the first time in almost five months. He was seen doing light training at Hamilton on Saturday. England skipper Eoin Morgan said that the all-rounder wouldn’t be risked too early, and is expected to play the first ODI against New Zealand next Sunday.

The suspension and the legal proceedings took a toll on Stokes, but Morgan said that the New Zealand-born cricketer had “coped well” with it.

The Guardian quoted Morgan as saying, “There’s a good chance he’ll be fit for the first ODI. It depends on how his body reacts. He’s been bowling indoors – it’s not the same as outdoors.”

We’re not going to risk him just because he’s back. He’s got a long year ahead of him – IPL, a full summer and a Sri Lanka tour before Christmas. He won’t have time off until December.”

Morgan kept in touch with his premier all-rounder over phone. Stokes too has been cheering the team against Australia via social media during their 4-0 defeat in Tests and 4-1 ODI series win. It has been a relaxed one day for Stokes and he spent the evening in the team room.

“Chipping golf balls and talking crap” with the rest of the team, Morgan further quipped about Stokes’ schedule since return before saying, “It’s as if he hadn’t been away.”

England are squaring off against New Zealand at Hamilton in the sixth ODI of the Trans-Tasman T20 Tri-series. A win can see them seal a final berth.

Rajasthan Royals acquired Stokes for INR 12.5 crore for the IPL 2018. Reportedly, the 26-year-old also helped teammate Mark Wood secure a deal in the IPL with the Chennai Super Kings. The coach, Stephen Fleming, had texted the all-rounder for a character reference for Wood and Stokes’ reference ensured the INR 1.5 crore deal.

“It’s always good to see Ben back,” Morgan concluded.