England allrounder Ben Stokes has trained with the squad on the eve of their series opening Boxing Day Test against South Africa at Centurion’s SuperSport Park from Thursday.

Stokes had missed Tuesday’s session to be at his father’s side who was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital in a critical condition. However, and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement on Wednesday said Stokes’ father Ged has shown improvement but remains in ICU.

“He [Ged] remains in intensive care, but has responded positively to treatment and is now in a stable condition. England will train at SuperSport Park today and Ben is expected to play a full part in the practice ahead of the first Test, starting on Boxing Day.” The Stokes family wishes to thank everyone for their support and in particular the medical practitioners in South Africa for their care of Ged,” an ECB statement read.

“The England and Wales Cricket Board continues to request that the media and public respect Ben and his family’s privacy at this time,” it added.

England Test captain Joe Root has thrown his weight behind Stokes saying family comes first and the allrounder has all the support he needs. “It puts things in perspective. We’re here to play good, hard cricket but it’s important as a squad that we want Ben and his family to have all the support they can get. I want to stress the importance of respecting his privacy. What’s most important is we support him and his family. It’s crucial that comes first,” Root said.

Meanwhile, England trio of Chris Woakes, Ollie Pope and Jack Leach have missed Christmas day’s practice session due to an illness bug.