Stokes back in action for Durham, targets Pak limited-overs series

Top England all-rounder Ben Stokes marked his return to cricket after a long injury layoff, striking an 18-ball 29 and taking one wicket, as his county side Durham defeated Birmingham Bears by 22 runs in the Vitality Blast T20 tournament here.

The 30-year-old Stokes had to pull out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) before its suspension after a fracture to his left index finger. He underwent a surgery for it.

This was Stokes’s first T20 Blast game in three years and sets him on the return path for a one-day international series against Pakistan which begins in Cardiff on July 8.

Pakistan will tour England for a three match ODI series beginning July 8, which will be followed by a three-match T20I series commencing on July 16.

Batting first, Durham scored 185/4 in the allotted 20 overs, with Stokes smashing four boundaries and a six in his 17-minute stay at the crease. He returned to bowl four overs where he took the wicket of well-set middle-order Birmingham Bears batsman Sam Hain (35).

Durham restricted Birmingham Bears to 163/8, winning by 22 runs.

“It was awesome to have Ben Stokes out there. He brings great energy to the team. He loves putting on the Durham shirt. Clearly no matter what team he is playing for, he is passionate and committed to playing each game. Today was no different. Hopefully he can stick around for a little bit longer,” said Stokes’s Durham teammate Cameron Bancroft of Australia.